No. 15 Michigan State (13-4, 5-1 Big Ten) handled Wisconsin (11-6, 4-2 Big Ten) Friday night, 67-55.
Senior guard Cassius Winston entered the Breslin Center needing four assists to pass MSU’s all-time assist leader Mateen Cleaves, who held the spot at 816 and was in attendance Friday. He finished with six points and four assists.
Sophomore forward Aaron Henry played as clean of a first half as the Spartans have seen from him all season, scoring nine points on three assists. The sophomore was responsible for scoring or assisting MSU’s first six points of the contest. The second-year swingman continued to show his ambidextrous touch, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds.
Michigan State rode an efficient first half (54% shooting and 43% 3PT) to a 35-20 halftime lead.
Henry jumpstarted MSU’s second half too, finishing his own miss for an easy two.
The Spartans saw a little bit from everybody in a comfortable win over a second-place Big Ten foe. MSU sustained multiple Wisconsin runs throughout the second half.
Coach Tom Izzo said Tuesday that “the highs are too high, and the lows are too low” concerning his team. They showed just how high the ceiling can be Friday night.
Winston followed with a steal-and-score before Wisconsin began a 13-0 run spearheaded by Nate Reuvers, who sunk three shots from three-point range.
Winston tied Cleaves’ record on a feed to freshman forward Malik Hall’s three-point play.
On a subpar shooting night, the senior from Detroit found lanes, jump-stopping and contorting in the paint through tough finishes.
Freshman guard Rocket Watts again flashed his ceiling, finishing a back-cut and making three three-point attempts in a three-minute stretch. Watts recorded 11 points and three assists.
Sophomore forward Gabe Brown, along with going perfect from the field to finish with 13 points, flew in for an emphatic alley-oop to stretch MSU’s lead to 63-39 with over seven minutes to play.
Winston finally earned his 817th assist on a lob to junior forward Xavier Tillman, who led the Spartans with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Spartans led 67-42 with 5:46 to play and didn’t look back.
Michigan State (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten) travels to Bloomington to face Indiana (13-4, 3-3 Big Ten) Thursday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 p.m.