EAST LANSING, Mich. — Before the game, Tom Izzo was in tears. But once the game tipped off, the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans (1-1) brought some joy to a community in pain, cruising past Binghamton, 100-47.
The game, played in the wake of the Saturday death of senior point guard Cassius Winston’s younger brother Zachary, was anything but routine. Breslin Center held a pregame moment of silence in Zachary’s memory, during which both Cassius and Izzo were visibly emotional.
Playing with a heavy heart, Winston displayed the brilliance that made him the reigning Big Ten player of the year, finishing with a team-high 17 points and 11 assists, his 13th career double-double. The tepid Breslin Center crowd erupted when he made his first 3-point attempt one minute into the game.
The physical mismatch was evident from the opening whistle, as the Spartans went on a 16-0 run in the opening moments to take a commanding 27-5 lead with 12:03 remaining in the first half.
Sophomore forward Marcus Bingham Jr. scored nine of his 13 during this period, using his near 7-foot wingspan to grab three offensive rebounds over smaller Binghamton players. The Spartans dominated inside, outpacing Binghamton 54-16 in the paint.
Sam Sessoms led Binghamton (0-2) with 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting.
Playing against much lower-level competition than in Tuesday’s Champions Classic loss to No. 2 Kentucky, the Spartans’ struggles from 3-point range continued. The first three baskets for MSU all came from deep, but after that initial surge, the team made just four of their next 19 from 3-point range.
Winston had another special moment with 10:39 remaining in the first half, stripping Binghamton’s Yarden Willis on a double-team in the paint, chasing the ball down in the corner and firing an underhanded strike to freshman guard Rocket Watts, who laid the ball in.
Winston played 26 minutes, shooting 7-for-16 overall and 3-for-8 on 3s. Xavier Tillman added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Aaron Henry scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Sophomore forward Thomas Kithier was briefly taken out of the game in the first half bleeding from the broken nose suffered Oct. 30. He was wearing a protective mask and was reinserted, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, three rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
The win marks Izzo’s 67th November home win, as the Spartans are undefeated in the month of November during his tenure.
With this brief respite, the Spartans head back to the tri-state area Thursday night for a trip to No. 13 Seton Hall. The Pirates are expected to be without AP preseason All-American guard Myles Powell, who suffered a “serious” ankle injury Saturday against Stony Brook.