Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talks about what he liked, and didn't like, after the victory over Western Michigan. The Detroit News
East Lansing — Michigan State returned to the court on Sunday night against Western Michigan, but did so without senior guard Cassius Winston.
Winston, who was sat on the bench in sweatpants throughout the game, suffered a bone bruise in his left knee Friday during practice. His name was entered in the official scorer’s book, meaning he could enter the game at some point, but he did not play in No. 14 Michigan State's 95-62 victory.
"He was in practice two days ago," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, using his hands to describe how Winston's knee reacted. "He just kind of dribbled, stopped and his knee kind of went like this and he's got a bone bruise there. There's nothing structurally wrong. He probably could have 80-percent played. I just had to make a decision that I had to make, and I made it but it was good for him to be on the bench and he kind of realizes some things that we're complaining about and why we're complaining about them."
Winston leads No. 14 Michigan State (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) averaging 17.6 points a game while averaging 6.1 assists. He’s been playing this season with the emotional burden of dealing with the death of his brother, Zachary, who was a sophomore at Albion. Zachary Winston took his own life the night before Michigan State’s second game of the season and Cassius Winston hasn’t missed a game, though the emotional toll has been clear.
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year hasn’t missed a game in his Michigan State career, a span of 121 games. Winston has started 90 games in his career. The last time Winston did not start a game was Feb. 20, 2018, when Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn got the nod on his Senior Day. That’s run of 56 straight starts for Winston.
Michigan State returns to conference play Thursday at home against Illinois and Izzo is optimistic Winston will be back.
"I'm hoping he'll be ready to practice tomorrow," Izzo said. "I'm hoping he'll be ready to go for the Illinois game on Thursday. I can't say I know everything on that except it's nothing that we're concerned about for any long range and I think he would have probably played tonight if I would have let him. I just felt like it wasn't in our best interest and it wasn't in his best interest. A little rest is going to do him good."
Freshman guard Rocket Watts returned to the lineup after missing four games with a leg injury. He scored nine points and had five assists in 12 minutes.