PISCATAWAY, NJ Cassius Winston scored 22 points and Nick Ward had 20 points to lead No. 9 Michigan State past Rutgers 78-69 in the Big Ten opener Friday night.
After a back-and-forth first half, where Rutgers led much of the first 10 minutes, Winston hit a 3-pointer to give Michigan State (5-2) the 39-37 lead over Rutgers (5-2) at the break.
Rutgers would open the second half with a 3-pointer by Peter Kiss from the top of the arc to retake the lead, but a quick 6-0 run from Michigan State caused Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell to call timeout down 45-40 with 17:54 to go. The deficit would eventually balloon to 13.
The Scarlet Knights cut it to seven after Shaquille Doorson hit a pair of free throws and had a put-back dunk to cap off a 6-0 run by Rutgers. Issa Thiam's 3-pointer made it 63-57 with 5:17 to go, but that's the closest Rutgers would come.
Eugene Omoruyi led Rutgers with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Michigan State: The Spartans are back to their winning ways after an overtime loss at Louisville ended a five-game winning streak. The game in Piscataway is one of five road games in a two-week span for Michigan State.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have rebounded from their only loss of the year with three straight victories, but are in the midst of a tough three-game stretch vs. teams in the Top 25 or receiving votes in six days.
Michigan State: At Iowa Monday night.
Rutgers: At No. 22 Wisconsin Monday night.