By John Marshall, AP Basketball Writer
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points, Xavier Tillman had 14 and No. 3 Michigan State knocked off UCLA 75-62 in the Maui Invitational fifth-place game on Wednesday.
The Spartans (5-2) opened the tournament with a loss to Virginia Tech, but bounced back with consecutive solid performances.
Winston had a second straight strong performance after struggling in the opener and Michigan State used an 18-2 advantage in fast break points to close its Maui trip with a flourish.
UCLA (5-3) is young and talented but is still working on its cohesion early in the season. After beating up on host Chaminade, the Bruins struggled to get anything to fall from the perimeter, going 2 for 14 from the 3-point line.
Chris Smith had 13 points and Cody Riley scored 11 for UCLA.
Winston had to be coaxed out of the locker room by coach Tom Izzo before the Spartans’ second game against Georgia. Winston is still trying to come to grips with the death of his brother Zachary on Nov. 9 and was weeping before the game against the Bulldogs.
Once on the court, the senior guard responded with one of his best games of the season, scoring 28 points and dishing out eight assists. He also made big plays down the stretch to help Michigan State overcome Anthony Edwards’ 33-point second half.
Winston was sharp in the first half against UCLA, scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting to help the Spartans build a 26-23 lead.
Michigan State opened the second half with a quick 10-2 run to go up 36-25 and pushed it to 15 points midway through.
UCLA tried to make a run, but the Spartans made 14 of 26 shots in the second half to keep the Bruins at bay.
UCLA is still trying to find its way under first-year coach Mick Cronin. The Bruins lost two games in Maui and their only win was over Division II Chaminade.
Michigan State also is still sorting through things with Winston grieving and guard Joshua Langford out until at least January with a foot injury. The Spartans still won two games in Maui, against quality opponents.
Michigan State will likely fall a few notches in Monday’s AP Top 25, but it may not be quite as far as it would have been after No. 1 Duke lost to at home to unranked Stephen F. Austin.
UCLA hosts San Jose State on Sunday.
Michigan State hosts top-ranked Duke on Tuesday.
© 2019, Newspaper Staff. All rights reserved.
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