Cassius Winston was off to a somewhat disjointed start and Michigan State (16-5) let Northwestern (6-14) whittle away at an early 12-point lead in the first half.  But the Wildcats’ hopes went up in smoke during the second half of Wednesday’s game at Breslin Center.

Despite five turnovers by Winston, and often getting loose with the ball once they’re comfortably ahead the Spartans thumped the Wildcats 79-50.

Winston scored 18 points during the game.  Xavier Tillman and Foster Loyer both scored 12 points, with Tillman reliably all-purpose as ever.  Tillman had four assists, eight rebounds, two blocks, and three steals.

Wildcat Pat Spencer scored 11 points. Northwestern was outscored on 3-point shooting, making only 15.8 percent of their shots from 3-point range.  Michigan State made 40 percent of their 3-point shots.  Make that 12 of 30 3-points shot taken, and it was a long-range drubbing that went far to bury the Wildcats.

Michigan State had 44 rebounds.  Northwestern had 27 rebounds.

The Spartans also scored big off Northwestern turnovers—20 points off 15 turnovers.

The Wildcats had a capable comeback during the first half.  They came to within four points of the Spartans (17-21) at 4:59 following two free throws by Wildcat Miller Kopp.  But the Spartans went on a 12-5 scoring run that gave Michigan State a double-digit lead (22-33) at the end of the first half.

Northwestern started cold at the beginning of the second half and was scoreless for over three minutes.  From that point on it was Michigan State’s game.  The Spartans went on a 7-0 run and left the Wildcats in the dust (40-22) at 17:20 in the second half. 

Spartan Gabe Brown then made a jumper at 13:58, putting 20 points between Michigan State and Northwestern.  By this time the Wildcats had lost control of the game and struggled just to keep up. 

Cassius Winston put up back-to-back 3-pointers with just over five minutes left of the second half.  Northwestern briefly rallied afterward to score 11 points during the following four minutes, but it was too little, too late.  The game ended 79-50, Spartans winning.

Michigan State plays Wisconsin (12-9) on Saturday, February 1st.  With Badgers guard Brad Davison suspended one game for a flagrant foul violation against Iowa, Wisconsin could be in for some real trouble.

Photo courtesy of the Lansing State Journal.