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Gophers drubbed by #8 Michigan State 74-58

Cassius Winston scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half while Xavier Tillman finished with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds
Credit: AP
Michigan State's Cassis Winston, left, is pressured by Minnesota's Marcus Carr during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

EAST LANSING, Mich. —  No. 8 Michigan State started slowly against Minnesota, looking sluggish coming off a big win over its rival.

Cassius Winston made sure the Spartans made up for that.

Winston scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half while Xavier Tillman finished with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, leading Michigan State to a 74-58 win over Minnesota on Thursday night.

“Cassius had 27 points and barely breaks a sweat," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said.

The senior star made more than half his shot attempts after halftime after he was 2 of 8 in the first half.

“I wasn't forcing it as much and was playing a little more free," Winston said.

Winston had a career-high 32 points in an 87-69 win over then-No. 12 Michigan on Sunday.

The Spartans (13-3, 5-0 Big Ten) led by just four points at halftime before pulling away for their eighth straight victory, staying atop the Big Ten standings as the only team without a conference loss.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was very unhappy after the first half and let his players know it in the locker room.

“They responded," Izzo said.

The Golden Gophers (8-7, 2-3) were competitive in the first half, which had five lead changes and five ties, but couldn't slow down Winston after halftime or Tillman the entire game.

“I thought we played good defense," Pitino said. “It was the rebounding."

Minnesota's Daniel Oturu had 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

“He's a physical, athletic player, a workhorse, who's always attacking,” Tillman said.

Marcus Carr scored 11 points and Alihan Demir added 10 points for the Gophers.

KEY STAT

Michigan State had a six-rebound edge in the first half and outscored the Gophers in the second half by 12 points in part because it outrebounded them 48-30 overall.

“They bullied us on the boards," Pitino said.

BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: Oturu needs more help. The Gophers have four players who average in double figures, but didn't have anyone get there other than Oturu until Demir made a 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining.

Carr is averaging nearly 16 points entering the game and finished with just 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting against the Spartans. The sophomore guard was limited by three fouls in the first half and was called for his fourth just 14 seconds after halftime.

“He needs to be on the court," Pitino said. “When he was on the court, we were right there with them."

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Spartans are the highest-ranked team with three losses, making it difficult for them to move up in the poll.

HE SAID IT

There was a moment of silence before the game for former Michigan State football coach, athletic director and trustee George Perles, who died Tuesday.

“I loved the man," Izzo said. “He did a lot for me and he did a lot for this institution. ... We lost one helluva a Spartan.”

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Hosts No. 19 Michigan on Sunday and No. 20 Penn State on Wednesday night, facing a third ranked opponent in a week.