Michigan State makes statement vs. Michigan
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
EAST LANSING, Mich. – For much of the season, college basketball fans have talked up the Big Ten – by focusing on Michigan and Indiana’s resurgence. The two schools began the season ranked in the top five, and haven’t left the spotlight all season.
For a while, Minnesota played third fiddle. Then Ohio State. Wisconsin had its moments – the win in Bloomington, the buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime against Michigan.
Thanks to a couple of November losses, Michigan State was conspicuously absent from the discussion not only of the Big Ten’s top teams, but the nation’s.
After building a 14-point lead over No. 5 Michigan by halftime Tuesday night, the eighth-ranked Spartans cruised to a 75-52 win at the Breslin Center, moving into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings.
Throughout the night, Michigan State attacked Michigan’s weakened frontcourt. With the Wolverines’ redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan playing limited minutes due to ankle injury, the Spartans attacked the basket and scored 36 points in the paint in the game. Derrick Nix and Branden Dawson combined for 24 points.
Spartan freshman guard Gary Harris hit five 3-pointers to lead the offensive attack on the perimeter. Point guard Keith Appling added 11.
Michigan struggled offensively for most of the game, particularly when point guard and national player of the year candidate Trey Burke sat on the bench with foul trouble. Burke scored 18, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III – Michigan’s second- and third-leading scorers on the season – combined for just four points on 2-for-15 shooting.
Tuesday night’s game marked the first time in history that Michigan and Michigan State faced one another while both teams were ranked in the top 10.… [For more on Michigan State makes statement with rout of Michigan, click here.]