Wednesday, November 25, 2020

FINAL: No. 4 MSU stunned by U-M for first home loss of the season

January 13, 2018
Junior guard Matt McQuaid (20) dives for the ball during the first half of the men's basketball game against Michigan on Jan. 13, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartan's led the first half, 37-34. (Nic Antaya | The State News)
Junior guard Matt McQuaid (20) dives for the ball during the first half of the men's basketball game against Michigan on Jan. 13, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartan's led the first half, 37-34. (Nic Antaya | The State News) —

In his first taste of the historic in-state rivalry, freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. did everything he could Saturday afternoon and the Spartans needed every bit of it. 

And then some. 

Jackson scored a team-high 19 points, but No. 4 MSU couldn't overcome Michigan in front of a sold out crowd at the Breslin Center, 82-72. 

The loss is MSU’s (15-3, 4-2 Big Ten) second in its last three games, while U-M (15-4, 4-2) rebounds after falling to No. 5 Purdue 70-69 in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of ways to win a game and we found it,” U-M coach John Beilein said. “I think we caught them in the second half in a little bit of a bad night where some things for them weren’t clicking.”

Forward Moritz Wagner was the difference, scoring a game-high 27 points to lead four Wolverines in double figures. Guard Zavier Simpson scored 16, guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 14 and guard Charles Matthews had 10.

Guard Miles Bridges tied Jackson with 19, and guard Cassius Winston finished with 11. Starting sophomore forward Nick Ward played 14 minutes and finished with four points. Starting sophomore guard Joshua Langford had six points.

“When you take Nick out of there, we’re not as good down there offensively,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. “We’re a good offensive team, we shot 50 percent all game, we just didn’t get enough shots up because we kept turning the ball over.”

After taking a 10-9 lead in the first 4:51, MSU was unable to hold the lead for most of the first half. U-M used a 10-4 run midway through the first half, capped off by a 3-pointer from Abdur-Rahkman and a layup from guard Charles Matthews with 8:47 to take a 23-18 lead. MSU, however, ended the half on an 8-2 run to take a 37-34 lead into halftime. 

Key turnovers hindered any chance of MSU coming back in the second half. The Spartans lost the turnover battle, 17-7 resulting in a 25-7 point differential caused by turnovers.  The loss marks MSU’s first when leading at halftime.

The game was effectively out of reach for MSU with 5:05 to play, when a jumper from Simpson gave U-M an eight point lead, when only three minutes prior MSU was only down by two.

Though MSU finished the game shooting 46.7 percent from the floor, the Spartans shot 36.4 percent in the second half. U-M managed to shoot 42.1 percent on the best field goal defense in the country, keeping opponents to an average of 34.5 percent coming into Saturday. 

“They played harder than us today,” point guard Lourawls Nairn Jr., who went scoreless with an assist and three turnovers, said. “And I think you you play harder than us you’re going to win.” 

MSU is off until Indiana comes to East Lansing next Friday. The Hoosiers (10-7, 3-2) have won its last two. That game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.

“The only way that we are going to get rid of this is by winning a game, and now we have to wait a whole week until we play again,” Bridges said. “It is going to be tough, but we are going to get through it.”

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