EAST LANSING — Michigan State (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to six games as they closed out nonconference play in a 88-60 win against Northern Illinois (7-6). Cassius Winston led the Spartans with 24 points on 8-10 shooting and zero turnovers.
The Spartans opened the game shooting threes — and lots of them. The star today from behind the arc was Winston, who was 3-3 in the first three minutes and tied a career high 6 3-pointers.
The Spartans finished 29-57 from the field and 14-29 from 3-point range and while they won by 28 points, Izzo did not love all of the three point shooting.
“I wasn’t crazy about it,” said Izzo. “We had some good ones because of the way they doubled Nick (Ward), but I thought we forced a couple early.”
“Exciting part of the day: Cassius, all-around, but his defense almost more than his offense,” said Izzo. “Twenty-five assists on 29 baskets is what this team has stood for, it’s part of our identity right now and it’s a good identity.”
The Spartans played well defensively, especially in the first half where they held the Huskies to just 19 points. However, the overall pace was not up to speed on what has been regularly seen by the Spartans this season. Izzo said he felt the team was very slow and lethargic.
The exception to that sluggish pace was Winston, who Izzo said, “took the challenge” against the Huskies.
“I definitely think he’s playing his best basketball since he’s been here,” said Izzo. “I think he really understands that he’s got to push the ball and he’s got to guard pretty good.”
Not only has Izzo seen a lot of great things from Winston, but Winston also feels like he is getting what he needs from Izzo to help him succeed going into Big Ten season.
“Him (Izzo) pushing me consistently, pushing me to be that player that we both feel like I can be, just to reach the highest level I can — that’s where we’re at right now” said Winston.
Like Izzo, Winston’s teammates have seen a lot of growth in him as well.
“You know, he (Winston) always had great vision and great scoring potential,” said Goins. “But it seems like now the game has just slowed down tremendously for him. He doesn’t make any bad plays, really.”
While the Spartans have already played two Big Ten games, but they will officially open their conference schedule Jan. 2 against Northwestern. The game tips off at 8:30 p.m. at the Breslin Center.