EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 28 points and Xavier Tillman had a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, helping No. 10 Michigan State beat Rutgers 71-60 Wednesday night.
The Spartans (22-5, 13-3 Big Ten) moved a half-game ahead of No. 7 Michigan and No. 15 Purdue in the Big Ten standings.
The Scarlet Knights (12-14, 5-11) have lost five of their past six games.
Michigan State missed Nick Ward and Joshua Langford on offense against defensive-minded Rutgers. Ward had hand surgery Sunday and Langford had season-ending foot surgery earlier this month, taking more than 30 points of scoring out of Tom Izzo’s lineup.
The Spartans started 0 of 6 and trailed 32-35 at halftime after making just 30 percent of their shots. The Scarlet Knights led by 11 points early in the second half before Tillman had six straight points and Michigan State’s best chance to score was off offensive rebounds.
Matt McQuaid made a game-tying 3-pointer with 12:39 left after Michigan State’s fourth offensive rebound of the possession. Winston made a go-ahead layup the next time the Spartans had the ball and they ended up coasting to a double-digit victory.
Geo Baker scored 17 points and Ron Harper had 11 points for Rutgers.
McQuaid, the only player on the team who shot well early in the game, scored 11 points and Kenny Goins had five points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Ahrens, who has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, limped off the court after appearing to aggravate a back injury in the second half.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights compete hard in the Big Ten, but they don’t have enough scorers to win consistently in the highly competitive conference. They connected on fewer than 40 percent of their shots against the Spartans.
Michigan State: After a slow start, Tillman took advantage of his opportunity to start in place of Ward. The sophomore forward didn’t score until 5:39 left in the first half, but he scored the last basket of the first half and had six straight points early in the second half to cut the Spartans’ deficit to five.
Rutgers: Host Minnesota on Sunday night.
Michigan State: Plays at Michigan on Sunday.
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