It was a big night, maybe the biggest night in the history of the heated in-state rivlarly, and, for 20 minutes, it all was working.
A 3-pointer from Gary Harris? Good.
A hook shot from Derrick Nix? Count it.
Mid-range jumper from Adreian Payne? Drained.
The No. 8 MSU men’s basketball team (20-4 overall, 9-2 Big Ten) made an astounding 53.3 percent of its shots in the opening half to take a 38-24 lead into halftime against No. 8 Michigan (21-3, 8-3).
The urgency of the first ever meeting between the rivals with both program’s ranked in the top-10 appeared to fuel the Spartans early and often, as MSU took the lead 13 seconds in after a Branden Dawson jump shot and never trailed.
Both teams hung neck-and-neck for the opening 10 minutes, with MSU never leading by more than seven points.
A 3-pointer from Harris was answered with one from U-M guard Nik Stauskas.
A layup from guard Keith Appling was followed by another from U-M forward Mitch McGary.
But in the half’s final 10 minutes, things began to change.
An 11-2 run, capped off by a layup from Nix, gave the Spartans their first double-digit lead 31-17 with 4:57 to go in the half.
Nix led the way for the Spartans with 10 first half points, while Harris added nine points on three 3-pointers and Dawson scored eight.
MSU maintained its double-digit margin the rest of the way, with the help of a pair of buckets from freshman forward Matt Costello.