Recap: Michigan State Spartans Declaw the Michigan Wolverines in Big Ten Conference Play

Photo by Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday afternoon, the Michigan Wolverines (10-4) lost their fourth game of the season against the Michigan State Spartans (12-3) 87-69. No. 12 Michigan came into the matchup with the intention of throwing different looks at No. 14 Michigan State on the defensive end to limit their balanced offensive attack.

However, the Spartans were just too much for the Wolverines who were without Isaiah Livers again due to a groin injury. For a majority of the first half, Michigan managed to keep the game close. But the Spartans jumped out to an early lead due to their pace of play.

Michigan State closed the first half leading Michigan 44-34. In addition to the Spartan’s first-half performance, they managed to dominate the boards and defensive end of the floor. The Spartans ended the game shooting 52.8 percent from the floor.

Michigan State Spartans: Insert Cassius Winston

Ultimately, Michigan struggled all night to limit the wizardry of Cassius Winston. Winston finished the game with a career-high 32 points, 9 assists, and 2 rebounds.

In addition to Winston’s career-high night, Xavier Tillman imposed his will on the Wolverines. Both players provided a spark for the Spartans as they dominated the game from start to finish.

Although Winston finished the game with 32 points, his impact on the game came from his ability to drive to the rim. Throughout the game, he put on his best Magic Johnson impersonation by drawing two defenders or driving to the rim and finishing in an acrobatic fashion.

All night, the Wolverines threw different defensive looks at Winston whether it was a zone, man to man or switching on the pick-and-roll. Yet, he took advantage of the mismatches off the pick-and-roll. Often times, Zavier Simpson, Eli Brooks, and Jon Teske ended up guarding Winston but struggled to stay in front of him.

Michigan State: Big Energy

Coupled with Winston and the lack of defense from Michigan, Tillman played lights out all night. He finished the game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. But the 6-foot-8 forward made his mark on the game by disrupting Teske and anyone else who attempted to attack the rim.

Michigan State received big minutes from Aaron Henry (6 points), Gabe Brown (6 points), Malik Hall (6 points) and Rocket Watts (8 points). No matter who was in the game for the Spartans everyone locked in on defense and ran the fast break. Also, the team continued to make the extra pass on offense all night.

Michigan Wolverines

Despite the loss, the Wolverines stuck to their game plan but were simply outmatched. Teske finished the game with 15 points and 5 rebounds, while Simpson ended the contest with 14 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.

Needless to say, the team played in foul trouble in the second half. The Wolverines were unable to gain a rhythm and ended the game shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from three.

Even though Michigan lost by 18 points they managed to cut the lead down to 10 multiple times. But Michigan State continued to put together significant runs to extend their lead.

Clearly, in certain instances, the Wolverines managed to run their offense and construct a few runs. Unfortunately, the Spartans were able to respond each time.

All and all, Michigan State plus their home crowd was too much for Michigan. By defeating the Wolverines, the Spartans extend their winning streak to seven and improve to 4-0 in conference play. On the flip side, Michigan falls to 1-2 in conference play.

As of now, Michigan still leads the all-time series 93-85 but Michigan State has won the last four games. These two teams will meet again on February 8th.

Next Up for the Wolverines

Lastly, the Michigan Wolverines will host the Purdue Boilermakers at the Crisler Center, Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. on FS1.

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