MSU's Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman talk about the win over Minnesota Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — The injury bug continues to nip at Michigan State’s heels.
Already without guard Joshua Langford for the rest of the season and with junior guard Kyle Ahrens battling a bad back, the Spartans lost senior forward Kenny Goins during Saturday’s 79-55 victory over Minnesota when he injured his left elbow in the first half.
Goins came out of the game, had a sleeve placed on the elbow and returned to the game. But two minutes later, after he missed a jumper from the corner, Goins headed to the locker room for X-rays.
The tests, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, revealed there was no break, but Goins did not play again and Izzo is unsure of Goins’ status moving forward.
“They did X-ray it and that's the good news,” Izzo said. “They X-rayed it immediately. Took him away because they thought it might have been cracked. It wasn't, so that's the positive news. The other positive news is that it's on his left arm. Negative news is that I don't know. He couldn't go back in. I think if it would've been an emergency late in the game, he probably could have, but he said he didn't have enough strength in his arm to make a pass. So I said just guard and get a rebound, to hell with passing. Didn't go that way, so I don't know.
“I won't know anything probably until tomorrow, but at least I know it's not broken, cause there was some fear of that.”
Goins entered Saturday’s game averaging 7.3 points and 8.9 rebounds a game in 28.7 minutes. He is the fourth-leading rebounder in the Big Ten and Michigan State’s best.
The Spartans outrebounded Minnesota, 38-33, something Izzo was impressed by considering Goins only got one rebound in 6:35 on the floor.
“We only outrebounded them by five,” Izzo said, “but that’s without Kenny and they’re a good rebounding team.”
Michigan State next plays Tuesday at Wisconsin.
Junior guard Cassius Winston had nine assists against Minnesota to give him 601 for his career. He becomes just the fourth player in Spartans history to hand out at least 600 assists, joining Mateen Cleaves (816), Scott Skiles (645) and Denzel Valentine (639).
Winston hasn’t had fewer than six assists in a game since Jan. 8 against Purdue and has had double-digit assists in five games this season.
“That's crazy,” Winston said. “It's such a blessing to be in this situation and have my teammates around me. To be one of four is special because this is a special place and it's such a huge honor.”
With Goins out for most of the game, freshman Thomas Kithier played a career-high 18:09 and responded with eight points and three rebounds.
The eight points also marked a career high and Kithier got plenty of them by running the floor.
“One of the biggest things is our running game,” Kithier said. “When we defend and rebound and get out and push it, it changes the whole dynamic of the game. I’m just going in there trying to rebound and boxing my guy out is huge and that keeps me getting more minutes.”
All five freshmen played in the first half as Foster Loyer took advantage of Winston’s foul trouble while Aaron Henry was back in the starting lineup. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham also played.
“Foster did some really good things,” Izzo said. “He's growing. It's hard to do what I'm expecting him to do. And Kithier continues to do a lot of good things when he gets his chance. We even got Marcus in there some.
“We're making some progress with the freshmen, Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown. I wish I'd have given him a few more minutes. But Foster did pretty good. We hung in there with that lineup and that was good.”