Winston sparks No. 4 Michigan State past UConn, 77-57
MSU will face North Carolina in the championship of the PK80 on Sunday.
PORTLAND, Ore. Michigan State sophomore guard Cassius Winston scored 23 of his career-high 28 points in the second half and the fourth-ranked Spartans used a big second half to pull away from UConn for a 77-57 in the semifinals of the PK80 Invitational on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Spartans improved to 4-1 overall with the win, while the Huskies fall to 4-1. MSU advances to Sunday's Championship game of the Victory Bracket and will meet North Carolina.
Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds for his second-straight double-double - and third of the season - while sophomore forward Nick Ward added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Michigan State shot 48.5 percent from the floor (32-of-66), including a blistering 69.0 percent in the second half (20-of-29).
During a key stretch in the second half, Winston scored 12 of Michigan State's 16 points as the Spartans took a 71-53 lead with 2:56 left in the game.
He hit 12-of-15 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, establishing career best in field goals made and attempted and 3-point field goals made and attempted. Winston scored 18 of MSU's final 26 points over the last 8:23. He also assisted on two other baskets, having a direct hand in 22 of MSU's final 26 points.
Leading by one point at the break (28-27), the Spartans opened up a double-digit lead by outscoring the Huskies 15-6 over the opening 4:07 of the second half and taking a 43-33 lead on a 3-pointer from Winston.
UConn would pull to within 45-40 on a 3-pointer from Terry Larrier and the lead was again five points, 47-42, when junior guard Matt McQuaid hit a 3-pointer that triggered a 20-11 run as the Spartans took a 67-53 advantage on a Winston layup with 4:53 left to play.
The Spartans had gone into the half with a 28-27 lead, with a tip-in from Ward with 1:12 giving MSU a three-point lead before free throws from Josh Carlton closed it to one.
Both teams struggled from the field in the early minutes and UConn took a pair of early six-point leads, the latter at 18-12 on a 3-pointer from Jalen Adams. MSU caught fire and used a 14-3 run over 3:58 and took a 26-21 lead on a layup from Ward with 5:12 to play.
The PK80 - the Phil Knight Invitational - is a two-tournament men's college basketball event held in Portland, Ore., honoring Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight for his 80th Birthday and in recognition of his significant contributions to collegiate basketball.