#3 Michigan State Destroys Charleston Southern 94-46 & Cassius Winston Makes First Comments
East Lansing, MI
The #3 Michigan State Spartans got the third win of their season tonight to improve to 3-1 on the season. They destroyed Charleston Southern 94-46, and it wasn’t that close.
The Spartans were led by Xavier Tillman who had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Gabe Brown had a career-high 12 points and six rebounds in his first career start for Aaron Henry. With two bad ankles, Izzo let Henry take the night off.
Brown said of the game, “I just had openings when I ran my lanes. Cash (Winston) set me up and all my teammates set me up for good shots and good dunks and I took advantage of them.”
Izzo said of the contest, “We played pretty well but we didn't look real in sync. We were a little disappointed on the bench. We just said that we looked tired. I think we're mentally exhausted. Cash (Winston) looks tired, he hasn't practiced much. His brother was up here supporting him yesterday. His brother had a game in Albion and it was the same time as our practice so I sent Cassius down there to support his brother and he missed the day before the game practice and I think those are some of the things that you got to do in this situation, but at the same time we haven't practiced very well and I thought (Thomas) Kithier, Xavier (Tillman), we looked really tired. I think mental fatigue is a lot worse than physical, but I also think we got to get back to practicing now. We've tried to do what we've got to do and it's going to be a process still, but I appreciated the fact that the guys had some positives. 31 assists is a big positive, out rebounding them that bad is a big positive. I thought our running game got going some, but we didn't seem to run as good because Cash didn't push as good. I thought Rocket, other than a couple shots, but he gets six, seven rebounds and he get six assists and that's better so he's getting better at that. Xavier, we wanted to go inside, we thought we were taking too many three's and we only took 17 three's, but we got the ball inside, got to the free-throw line a little more. All those things were a part of what we wanted to do but what scares you is when you play a game like Seton Hall and really, we hardly practiced before we went there, seriously, and then you win it and players think this is low management. We won't practice, and we'll just play, and you just can't do that, and I think that led to some of our shooting these past two games and I think it's leading to our conditioning. Tomorrow's off and Wednesday and Thursday are going to be boot camp and we're going to have to get back at it the best we can. Pleased with a lot of things, the 31 assists were the biggest. I thought got a lot of ball out of some new guys, remember we played without Aaron Henry tonight, but I thought Kyle (Ahrens) did some really good things defensively, I thought Gabe Brown did a good job. Our freshmen and our sophomores by committee were getting the four spot taken care of. That's another guy that looked really winded tonight was Kithier. We're just going to keep battling through this. I do want to thank our people publicly. I just felt that Cassius needed one moment. He kept telling me how much he appreciated, and his mother, the cards and flowers and all the things coming in to the office and so I just said if you want a minute you can thank them all and I thought that was good and I thought our people responded well and I was very appreciative of that.
Izzo said of Hall, “Somebody is going to be mad at me back at home. He hasn’t made that many threes in practice. We put him in there and thought eh was a little small, for all their size, but I think they had trouble guarding him too like we had guarding them.”
The Spartans won the battle of the boards 54-28 and the Spartans also had 12 turnovers. Charleston Southern had 12 turnovers also and the Spartans converted that to 22 points.
PF Xavier Tillman said of the game, “We started off really well, we started off hot. We played good defense and were capitalizing on offense. Then we fell into a little bit of a slump in the first half and guys were just getting tired and winded. Coach did a great job of subbing everyone in … Julius (Marble) played, Malik (Hall) played … Conner (George) getting in there and everybody getting some time so that was very big. Then in the second half, we kind of ran away with it.”
Charleston Southern head coach Barclay Radebaugh said, “"Before we talk about basketball, I had a moment with Cassius (Winston) and I am just very sorry about his brother. That is really, really tough, and I just admire how he has handled that, and how Michigan State backed him on that. What a wonderful young man and what a great example of what college basketball is all about. Certainly, very sorry for his loss. To basketball, I thought that it was a very tough night for us and a tough matchup with the size that Michigan State has. Their ability in transition is the best I've seen in a lot of years. I've been coaching for 31 years now and I haven't seen a team that runs like that since the old Arkansas teams, when I was in the SEC. Certainly amazing, amazing group of athletes that perform very, very well together. They seem very close knit, which is important in the long run, and obviously a very classy organization and once again a very tough matchup for us. I thought our kids played hard, I thought we had some frustration out there. It's been a tough road trip for us, Dayton and Michigan State within a three-day period is tough for anybody, and it is certainly tough for our team. We will take some good out of it. I think for schools our level right now that are playing these guarantee games, it is really important for us to find some good. Find 15 to 20 things to build on. Because unless there is quickly going to be some conference realignment, then Michigan State is not going to be in the Big South tournament, and I am very thankful for that. We don't have to beat Michigan State or the likes of Michigan State to get to where we want to go. Our team is a work in progress, we've got a long way to go, that is obvious by the way we've performed in the first five games. Our men do have character and they are a really good group of men, and they want to win, they want to play the right way, and do things the right way and I really love them. We will fight our way through the tough early schedule just like we always do, and we will be better in January and February because of that. Very thankful for this opportunity because it is going to help us improve.”
At one point in the game, the Spartans were up nearly 30 and three Spartans went to the floor to retrieve the ball. Coach Radebaugh said of that play, “"It's amazing. For them to be up thirty and them to be diving on the floor like that, and for them to play with that type of excellence all the way through. All the way through, the concentration, the effort. When I talked about Arkansas, it was when I was out of coaching briefly and they had those great teams that really ran. I was comparing them to that. I think Michigan State is in another class when it comes to their effort, and their ability and willingness to get on the floor up thirty. Just speaks of the amazing job that coach has done forever, and it's been real characteristic of him as I've watched from afar. The Michigan State teams are known for their rebounding and their effort. Certainly, when I saw that today, and started studying them on film a week ago in preparation for this game, I noticed three things. Their incredible hustle, their willingness to rebound every possession, and the way they run their floor. Those three things are elite. It's going to take them a long way. Another thing I noticed tonight, they have extreme unity. And we do too, and in fairness we are put in a very difficult situation playing these games. Our kids responded and played as hard as they can, we just aren't big enough and strong enough to compete with that right now."
Tom Izzo added of the hustle of his team on that play, “I think Cassius was one of them. That isn't the time where we were worried about Rocket getting hit in the head was it? No that was a different time, but when I saw Cash go down on the floor up that much I said well this team is going to find a way to bounce back here. We've got a lot of work ahead to play in a tournament like we're going to play in, but those are other things that our encouraging. I appreciate how hard my team's usually play, but Xavier had eight rebounds at halftime and he plow horsed his way through two more rebounds. Dwyane Stephens said they took Steven's last rebound and gave it to Xavier, but I don't know if that's true or not, to get his double-double, but give Xavier credit. He hung in there, but we just think he's got so much more to give, and we're going to try and get that out of him.”
The Spartan continued their habit of being unselfish. They had 31 assists on 36 baskets. The Spartans shot 24% from three, 56% from the field and a disappointing 72% from the charity stripe.
The Spartans return to the court in one week on November 25 in Maui, Hawaii against the Virginia Tech Hokies. That game can be seen on ESPN at 5 PM.
The Duke Blue Devils will be in East Lansing to take on the Spartans on Tuesday, December 3rd in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. That game can be seen on ESPN and it tips off at 9:30 PM
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