COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points, including a buzzer-beating, 60-foot shot to end a sensational first half for No. 24 Michigan State in a 78-66 victory over No. 9 Maryland on Saturday night that denied the Terrapins’ bid to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
The Spartans (20-9, 12-6) bolted to a 17-5 lead and never trailed in dealing Maryland its first home loss of the season. When the teams played two weeks earlier, the Terps scored the game’s final 14 points to pull out a 67-60 victory.
There would be no comeback in this one. Winston’s desperation heave from well behind half court put Michigan State ahead 40-29, and the Spartans upped the margin to 18 points before churning out the final minutes of their third straight victory.
After Maryland (23-6, 13-5) closed to 71-61 with 5:20 left, the sellout crowd hoped to see another rally from a team that three times has overcome a halftime deficit of 14 points or more. But a three-point play by Winston made it 76-61, leaving the Terps and their fans with little hope of ending the night in a celebratory mood.
Bidding for their first Big Ten crown since joining the league in 2014, the Terrapins stumbled at the outset and never showed the form that enabled them to win 10 of 11 to climb to the top of the standings.
The Terps’ lead over second-place Michigan State was slashed to one game with two to play. Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa are also in the running.
Jalen Smith had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Maryland, now 15-1 at home. The Terps can still clinch at least a share of the league title with a victory at Rutgers on Tuesday.
Xavier Tillman had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans and Malik Hall scored 16 on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor.
As the clock wound down on an impressive first half by Michigan State, Winston provided an exclamation point with a heave from the right side just past the Spartans’ bench. It hit nothing but net.
That capped a 17-6 surge to end the half and provided Michigan State with a lead that, for a change, Maryland was unable to overcome.
The enthusiastic crowd was buzzing at the opening tip, but it would be a while before they had anything to cheer about. Michigan State scored the game’s first nine points and led 17-5 after making seven of its first eight shots.
Maryland responded with a 13-2 run and pulled even at 23 before the Spartans held the Terps scoreless for the next seven minutes.
Michigan State: Ranked No. 1 in the nation during the preseason, the Spartans have bounced back smartly after falling out of the Top 25 in February. Michigan State has won four of its last six road games and should be moving up in the poll next week.
Maryland: The Terrapins still have the inside track at winning the conference and earning a top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, but this loss shows they’re not unbeatable at home and that not every deficit can be overcome.
Michigan State: At Penn State on Tuesday night.
Maryland: At Rutgers on Tuesday night.