Winter break for the Spartan athletic teams meant, with academics on pause, it was grind time.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
The first day out and the No. 14 Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team (12-3, 4-0) did not hesitate to demolish the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (6-10, 1-2) at Little Caesars Arena with a final score of 72-49. The game was led by fan-favorite players: sophomore forwards Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown, junior forward Xavier Tillman, and senior guard Cassius Winston, a collective 37 points counted between them.
In the final minutes, coach Tom Izzo cleared the bench, with redshirt sophomore guard Jack Hoiberg scoring three points, redshirt sophomore guard Brock Washington scoring two points, and freshman guard Steven Izzo snagging three rebounds.
Alongside the men’s basketball win, the Michigan State gymnastics team held their annual intrasquad, Green and White meet at the Jenison Field House.
The No. 18 Michigan State Spartans ice hockey team (10-9-1) came up short against the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils (11-8-3) with a final score of 4-3 after ASU junior forward Johnny Walker scored the tie breaker at 5:40-remaining.
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019
A nine-day training trip was in the books for the Spartan swim and dive team as they get ready for their season to kickstart in January.
The win brought home the previous night by the men’s basketball team set the pace for the women’s basketball team (8-6, 1-2) in their first ever match-up against the Morehead State Eagles (5-9, 1-1) with an overwhelming final score of 93-48. This game was not only the second-highest scoring output of the season, but also the third-largest margin of victory with a +35 difference.
The Spartans utilized 14 players, 12 of which scored, led by senior forward Nia Hollie and sophomore forward Kayla Belles.
Freshman forward Julia Ayrault had her first collegiate double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, opening the opportunity for 5 other players to also reach double-figures.
Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon had four assists, becoming the second player in Michigan State women’s basketball history with 500 career assists. Current assistant coach Kristin Haynie set the school record during her 2002-05 career with 574.
The Spartan ice hockey team got a chance at a much-needed redemption against the Sun Devils after their Saturday loss, pushing the game into overtime before junior forward Mitchell Lewandowski finalized a 1-0 win at the 3:17 mark.
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019
The men’s basketball team traveled to Evanston, Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats (5-8, 0-3) and came out with a tight 77-72 win. This was the Spartans' third-straight win – the fifth in the last six – improving their statistical standing to 8-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference.
Michigan State became the first Big Ten team to win a road game, as the road team in conference games had gone 0-13 to that point.
Winston scored 21 points to lead three players in double figures. Tillman had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Brown added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.
Sophomore guard Foster Loyer hit four free throws and Tillman landed two more in the last 33 seconds as the Spartan men clung for their 11th consecutive win over the Wildcats.
Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
The women’s basketball team dropped the Florida Sunshine Classic Opener to the Syracuse Orange (8-6, 2-1) with a 77-63 final, unable to overcome an early deficit despite the fourth 20-point game of the season put on by sophomore guard Nia Clouden.
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019
Saturday was a day for basketball, as both the women’s and men’s teams took to courts across the country.
For the women’s team, it was another close loss at the Florida Sunshine Classic Opener as the West Virginia Mountaineers (11-1, 1-0) gained control for a 63-57 final.
For the men’s team, their game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (10-4, 0-1) was a landslide victory as the Spartans scored over 100-points for the second time this season for a fourth-consecutive win of 101-48. Five players scored in double figures.
Friday, Dec. 27, 2019
The Michigan State football team (7-6) snuffed out the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-5) 27-21 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York December 27. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke closed out his career with a 320-yard performance, complete with a 10-yard game-winning touchdown pass to junior wideout Cody White. Senior defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk scored the only touchdown of his career on a 14-yard interception return in the first quarter.
The victory drove MSU to its 11th winning season in 13 years under coach Mark Dantonio, who extended his school record with his sixth bowl victory.
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019
The women’s basketball team was on a losing streak, hitting another bump in the season with a close 79-67 defeat when they went up against the No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers (13-2, 3-0) in the Big Ten opener.
McCutcheon became the 28th member of the 1,000-point club and the first since Jenna Allen last season, reached during the game against the Hoosiers with a 3-pointer with 3:05 remaining in the first half.
Sunday, Dec. 29th, 2019
The Michigan State wrestling team (4-2) kicked off their season with the South Beach Duals, the Spartans splitting with the Duke Blue Devils (0-4) and the No. 18 Cornell Big Reds (4-3) in the opener.
The Spartans started the day with a dominant 44-0 victory over Duke, but fell later to Cornell, 20-16.
The men’s basketball team passed the Western Michigan Broncos (8-6, 1-0) through the hands of Loyer, who scored a career-high 16 points and had six assists to lead four Spartans in double figures. The Spartans used the big guns in the first half, never looking back. This set up a 95-62 victory, and Michigan State closed out its non-conference slate with an 8-3 record, entering the remainder of the Big Ten slate with a 10-3 record, 2-0 in league play.
Monday, Dec. 30, 2019
The wrestling team split the second day of the South Beach Duals as well, this time with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (4-3) and the Wyoming Cowboys (3-6).
After falling flat to South Dakota with a narrow 19-17 score, the Spartans answered back stronger with an 18-12 win over Wyoming later that afternoon.
Redshirt junior Jake Tucker dominated the mats, compiling a stellar record of 4-0 throughout the two days.
The Spartan ice hockey team went into the opening game of the 55th Great Lakes Invitational against the Michigan Tech Huskies (13-9-1). They lost the early lead set up by senior forward Sam Saliba and came up short with a 4-2 final. Junior forward Alex Smith sealed the MTU win.
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019
Spartan athletics ended 2019 with a storm of success.
The devastation of loss didn’t last long for the Spartan ice hockey team as they powered past the Ferris State Bulldogs (6-13-2) for a 5-2 win.
The Spartan team scored three goals in the first period, led by sophomore defender Dennis Cesana through one goal and two assists. Five different players scored overall for the green and white. Senior forward Patrick Khodorenko reclaimed the Spartans’ four-goal advantage and put the rebound from the low slot for his 10th goal of the year.
The women’s basketball team captured its Big Ten home opener against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-2, 2-1) in overtime, chipping away at the deficit as the time on the clock ran low and ending with a 78-70 victory.
Having been guided by the power of underclassmen – Clouden, freshman guard Moira Joiner and sophomore guard Tory Ozment – the lady Spartans snapped a three-game losing streak, improving to 8-5 this season and 1-1 in league contests.
Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020
Cassius Winston shone on the court against the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-5, 1-2) in the first game of 2020, sinking a game-high of 21 points and handing out six assists that led four players into double figures and the men’s basketball team into a 76-56 victory.
Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020
Michigan State men's basketball (12-3, 4-0 Big Ten) triumphed for the fourth straight time over archrival Michigan (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten), 87-69, at home January 5. Senior point guard Cassius Winston scored a career-high 32 points and handed out nine assists. Junior forward Xavier Tillman added 20 points and 11 rebounds, as well as a career-high six blocks.
"It was one of the greater performances this building has seen," coach Tom Izzo said of Winston's performance. "I tip my hat to him... until tomorrow."
The rival Michigan Wolverines (11-3, 2-1) defeated Michigan State women's basketball 89-69 after a tough fourth quarter. Michigan State's senior point guard Taryn McCutcheon scored a season-high 23 points, but was overshadowed by the play of two sophomore Wolverines. Guard Amy Dilk led the way for Michigan with 23, while Naz Hillmon nipped at her heels with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"I hate losing to Michigan," coach Suzy Merchant said. "I don't do it often thankfully, but I did today. We have to have a little more effort, toughness and understanding of what's going on."
The last sporting event of the winter break balanced on the gymnastics team, who opened their 2020 season on the road at Western Michigan University against the Broncos (1-0) and earned a share of the three event wins behind senior Gabriella Douglas on beam, sophomore Ashley Hofelich on floor, and freshman Nyah Smith on vault in her Spartan debut.
The Broncos seized the duel win by a score of 195.275-191.750.
Follow along with the State News for more on Michigan State’s spring athletics.