Michigan knew, since the moment Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston torched its defense for 32 points and nine assists last month, how it was going to approach this game. The Wolverines simply were not going to drop their fifth straight to the Spartans and slip to 4-8 in conference play by letting Winston beat them.
Coach Juwan Howard and his staff watched the film and decided shortly after that they’d force any other Michigan State player to make plays, and they’d live with the consequences.
“Last couple of games we watched of him, we felt like he’s been pretty comfortable with the ball,” said senior center Jon Teske. “So anytime you can jump at him, make him feel uncomfortable, he might kind of second-guess himself and not come off the ball screen so aggressive.”
That emphasis, of course, was amplified by the commanding performances Winston has put together against Michigan in his four years. It’s not just the 32-and-9 he collected in their last matchup — perhaps the best game of Winston’s illustrious career. The senior averaged 24 points and 8.7 assists in the prior four matchups against Michigan coming into Saturday.