East Lansing — If Saturday night was a way for Michigan State to celebrate Christmas, then the Spartans got exactly what they asked for when they looked under the tree.
For the first time in what can only be described as a rollercoaster for a first two months to the season, the Spartans got a complete performance as five players scored in double figures during a 101-48 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night at the Breslin Center.
“I guess it was just what the doctor ordered,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “Santa delivered.”
He did, indeed, as No. 15 Michigan State (9-3, 2-0 Big Ten) started fast and never slowed down in its most one-sided victory of the season.
Sophomore Aaron Henry, who has been struggling to find a rhythm this season, flirted with a triple double before checking out with 10 minutes still to play. He scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists in just more than 23 minutes of action.
“I’ve been saying it, not that you all believed me,” Henry said with a smile. “I’m getting there and I’m gonna get there even more. I’m always gonna keep coming, and I was just trying to get better before the break.”
Henry’s play was just one highlight as senior Cassius Winston scored 21 points and handed out seven assists for the Spartans, while sophomore Foster Loyer added a season-high 13 points. Junior Xavier Tillman scored 11 and pulled down seven rebounds while sophomore Marcus Bingham Jr. added 10 points and six rebounds.
The Spartans were 32-for-59 from the field, including 15-for-30 from 3-point range, their best percentage in a game this season.
“The bucket was big tonight,” Henry said. “It was just one of those games. We were all happy that happened. We’ve been going through a slump as everybody knows, and it was good for everybody to make shots tonight. Everybody contributed. It was just really, really good to see everybody play tonight.”
All 15 active players got on the court for Michigan State, and all but Braden Burke and Steven Izzo scored.
“It was great,” Winston said. “It’s a long season and we were due a game where we’d play like this. Guys were making shots, guys were making plays and it was just fun. I've seen all the work that guys put in and you see all the tough times that guys go through and to have a moment where they're actually enjoying it, actually making shots, they're making plays and things are flowing. I’m happy to see guys out there having fun.”
The individual numbers would have been even higher had Michigan State not went deep into the bench with just more than nine minutes to play in the game and the lead up to 50.
“We haven't had many of these nights,” Izzo said. “It was the first time that I felt we put everything together, but I think the practices were important. I think we got to understand that how you practice is how you play, and I think the practices were really important.”
Eastern Michigan (9-2) entered the game on a three-game winning streak but opened the game 1-for-19 shooting and never recovered. The Eagles finished the game just 16-for-67, including 3-for-29 from 3-point range.
Michigan State was in control from the opening tip as it led 14-1 before Eastern Michigan hit a shot and led, 29-7, when the Eagles made their second bucket. Eastern Michigan missed 18 of its first 19 shots and finished the first half 6-for-31 from the field, including 1-for-12 from 3-point range and 7-for-18 from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were rolling as Henry was perfect on his four shots and had four rebounds and three assists to go with his 10 points. Winston also had 10 points as Michigan State was 14-for-26 in the first half with six 3-pointers.
The Michigan State lead grew to its largest of the half of 41-15 with 2:38 left on Loyer’s second 3-pointer before Eastern Michigan scored the final five points before halftime.
Things continued to go in Michigan State’s favor in the second half as an early 17-0 run broke the game open even more, with Michigan State leading by more than 50 points in the final five minutes.
“Probably the three most impressive things for me were, No.1, we finally made some threes,” Izzo said. “And No. 2, we had 27 assists on 32 baskets and that is unbelievable. And to score 100 points against a team that doesn’t give up that.
“So, we didn't beat the Celtics, but we beat a team that’s very good defensively, and I think they're going to create some havoc in that league, trust me. And I thought this was one of our better offensive performances.”
The Spartans now get a lengthy break for the holidays as they won’t play again until Dec. 29 when they host Western Michigan. After that, it’s back to Big Ten action for three straight at home to begin January.