No. 2 Michigan State Advances to Sweet 16 with Dominant Win vs. No. 10 Minnesota

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 23: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans drives to the basket against Dupree McBrayer #1 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first half in the second round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 23, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

No. 2 Michigan State won a battle of Big Ten schools in the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, earning a 70-50 win over No. 10 Minnesota.

Cassius Winston totaled 13 points, nine assists and two steals in Saturday's win in Des Moines, Iowa, helping the Spartans reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in the last four years. The Big Ten tournament champions continued their success against the rest of their own league, following up on a 24-point win against Minnesota earlier this season.

Amir Coffey did everything he could to help the Golden Gophers with 27 points, but it wasn't enough to keep his team's season alive.

Minnesota was forced to play mostly without double-double machine Jordan Murphy, who dealt with back issues and saw limited action.

The senior played only four minutes, not including his cameo at the end of the game where he was cheered off the court.

This led to a lopsided night, as Michigan State made things difficult on the defensive end.

The Gophers were stuck at 11 points for the first 14 minutes and finished the first half making 22.6 percent of their shots.

On the other end, the Spartans pounded the ball inside to get easy looks throughout the day:

When there were rare Spartan misses, the big men were there to clean it up:

It was clear the favorites were taking advantage of Murphy's absence.

Still, 11 Michigan State turnovers in the first half kept it at a 33-19 halftime advantage. The team ended the night with 22 giveaways in a sloppy offensive performance.

Coffey then did everything he could to keep the score close, including this powerful dunk:

The junior finished 8-of-24 from the field, but he was the only player on his team doing anything offensively. He totaled 54 percent of his team's points as well as four of his team's seven assists.

He helped cut the deficit to nine in the second half, but Michigan State was too good to be held down for long.

Winston helped the Spartans pull away with a personal 7-0 run, ending with this fast-break three:

The Big Ten Player of the Year allowed a balanced attack offensively but took control when needed to help the No. 2 seed pull away.

The Spartans struggled with No. 15 Bradley in the first round, trailing late in the second half before holding on for an 11-point win. This performance should have the team feeling much more confident heading into the second weekend.

       

What's Next?

Michigan State will advance to the Sweet 16 in Washington D.C., where it will face No. 3 LSU on Friday.

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