Cassius Winston leads Michigan State to big win after brother's death

 eu.usatoday.com  11/11/2019 02:54:20   Chase Michaelson

EAST LANSING, Mich.  Before the game, Tom Izzo was in tears. But once the game tipped off, the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans (1-1) brought some joyto a community in pain, cruising past Binghamton,100-47.

The game, played in the wake of the Saturday death of senior point guard Cassius Winstonsyounger brother Zachary, was anything but routine. Breslin Center held apregame moment of silencein Zacharys memory, during which both Cassius and Izzo were visibly emotional.

Playing with a heavy heart,Winston displayed the brilliancethat made him the reigning Big Ten player of the year, finishing with a team-high 17 points and 11 assists, his 13th career double-double. The tepid Breslin Center crowd erupted when he made his first 3-point attempt one minute into the game.

MORE: Michigan State's Cassius Winston plays with broken heart

"He was spectacular," Izzo said of his grieving star. "Some of the assists he had in the first half, I caught myself saying, 'wow.' The support we gave him and his family was special, and I think he appreciated it."

The physical mismatch was evident from the opening whistle, as the Spartans went on a 16-0 run in the opening moments to take a commanding 27-5 lead with 12:03 remaining in the first half.

Sophomore forward Marcus Bingham Jr. scored nine of his 13 during this period, using his near 7-foot wingspan to grab three offensive rebounds over smaller Binghamton players. The Spartans dominated inside, outpacing Binghamton 54-16 in the paint.

Izzo said after the team received the news of Zach's death last night that the normally cheerful Bingham addressed the team, instructing them to call loved ones and tell them they love them.

"It was kind of huge for us to hear him say that and not just be the funny guy but be the mature guy we can count on day in and day out," junior forward Xavier Tillman said. "That's something he's been showing these last couple days, of huge growth and a huge jump in maturity."

Playing against much lower-level competition than in Tuesdays Champions Classic loss to No. 2 Kentucky, the Spartans struggles from 3-point range continued. The first three baskets for MSU all came from deep, but after that initial surge, the team made just four of their next 19 from 3-pointrange.

Winston had another special moment with 10:39 remaining in the first half, stripping Binghamtons Yarden Willis on a double-team in the paint, chasing the ball down in the corner and firing an underhanded strike tofreshman guard Rocket Watts, who laid the ball in.

Winston played 26 minutes, shooting 7-for-16 overall and 3-for-8 on 3s. Tillman added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Aaron Henry scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting.

Michigan State did not make Winston available for comment after the game, asking that the family's privacy be respected.

Sophomore forward Thomas Kithier was briefly taken out of the game in the first half bleeding from the broken nose suffered Oct. 30. He was wearing a protective mask and was reinserted, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, three rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.

Sam Sessoms led Binghamton (0-2) with 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting.

The win marks Izzos 67th November home win, as the Spartans are undefeated in the month of November during his tenure.

With this brief respite, the Spartans head back to the tri-state area Thursday night for a trip to No. 13 Seton Hall. The Pirates are expected to be without AP preseason All-American guard Myles Powell, who suffered a serious ankle injury Saturday against Stony Brook.

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