NEW YORK — After men’s basketball loss to Michigan on Jan. 13, the Spartans looked to avenge themselves Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
At the 16:06 mark in the first half, the first of a few pushing and shoving altercations between the instate rivals. Then 30 seconds later, sophomore forward Nick Ward received a technical after another altercation under the basket.
After U-M senior guard Duncan Robinson made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 14-6 Wolverines, MSU went on a 10-0 run to take a 16-14 lead with 11:43 left in the half. This helped to give the Spartans a 29-26 lead going into halftime — and a chance at redemption.
But the lead wouldn’t stay, as the Wolverines would pull away in the second half and beat the Spartans, 75-64, to advance to the Big Ten Tournament finals.
The Spartan lead would dissipate in the early second half after Ward was subbed out in favor of redshirt senior forward Gavin Schilling. The Wolverines then went on a 9-2 run, with U-M forward Moritz Wagner scoring six of the them. The Berlin product ended with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The next six minutes was back-and-forth as MSU and U-M traded basket for basket. But after a pair of layups by U-M’s Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, the Spartans seemed to have lost momentum.
But a pair of 3-pointers by junior guard Matt McQuaid within the last 3:30 to keep the Spartans within six points was able to keep MSU in striking distance.
After McQuaid’s 3-pointers, however, U-M hit four free throws and sophomore wing Miles Bridges fouled out with 1:35 left in the game. The Flint native ended up with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and seven rebounds.
With 1:10 left, Robinson then drove to the basket and converted the layup, drawing a foul from senior guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., giving the Wolverines a 10-point lead. From there, Simpson and Robinson — who were two of five Wolverines to score double-digits — hit a combined six free throws to push the Wolverines to the Big Ten Tourney finals.
The Spartans finished shooting 38.1 percent from the floor, while the Wolverines shot 44.1 percent from the floor, including 66.7 percent in the second half. The only other two Spartans to score double-digits was freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. with 13 and sophomore point guard Cassius Winston with 11.
MSU will now wait until Selection Sunday on March 11 to see where it will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.