FINAL: Michigan State defeats Michigan in comeback fashion
CHICAGO — Senior guard Matt McQuaid scored a career-high 27, and the top-seeded Michigan State Spartans defeated their rival Michigan Wolverines, 65-60, in comeback fashion, to win the Big Ten tournament championship. Junior point guard Cassius Winston scored the game-winning lay-up with 28 seconds remaining, and MSU closed the game on a 10-0 run.
The Spartans (28-6) won a share of the Big Ten regular season championship as well, and received a 2-seed in the East region from the NCAA tournament selection committee. They play Bradley (20-14) Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. Michigan (28-6) also was awarded a 2-seed in the West region, and will play Montana (26-8) Thursday in Des Moines.
After Michigan forward Isaiah Livers hit a three-pointer to give Michigan a 60-55 lead with 2:29 left, MSU responded. McQuaid hit a three from the left elbow, then sophomore forward Xavier Tillman finished inside to tie the game at 60.
Winston laid it in with his left hand over Michigan center Jon Teske to give MSU its first lead since 17-15 at the 7:01 mark of the first half.
"(Tillman) set a pistol screen (an up-screen with Winston directly behind Tillman) so I could get downhill to his outside," Winston said. "And I was going to reverse it, but I thought I had a better angle just putting it up off the glass."
Winston got into the lane, switched up with Livers, and laid it in with four seconds left on the shot clock to get the game to 48-48 with 7:15 remaining. That play closed a 19-7 run during which McQuaid knocked down two threes.
McQuaid finished 7-13 from three-point range, and 8-15 overall. His previous career high, 22, came March 5 against Nebraska.
This win marked MSU’s third over the Wolverines this season, after winning 77-70 Feb. 24 in Ann Arbor and 75-63 March 9 in East Lansing.
"I've never been prouder of a team in my life," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "We found a way to beat a very good team that, as I said, probably outplayed us more than we outplayed them."
The game was marred by a scary moment with 4:34 remaining in the first half. Redshirt junior forward Kyle Ahrens was contesting a rebound and fell hard on his left ankle. X-Rays were negative, and Ahrens said postgame he believes it to be a bad sprain. Doctors were called immediately, and he was taken off the floor on a stretcher with an air cast surrounding his left foot. The entire Michigan State team was visibly shaken, with many players crying while Ahrens lay on the ground. The game was stopped for several minutes.
"It was pretty eerie," senior forward Kenny Goins said. "It was kind of bone-chilling. He actually landed on my foot, so I kind of felt the pop. It really sent just a shockwave of emotions through the team."
Ahrens returned to the bench in the second half on crutches.
Michigan pushed their lead to 39-26 with 17:12 left with an 8-0 run, keyed by freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who scored five in the run.
"I think somebody said in the huddle, ‘we got them right where we want them,'" Winston said.
Brazdeikis led the Wolverines with 19 points.
"I'm proud of the way our guys played," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Obviously they have got a lot of things to learn but (Michigan State is) really a tough matchup for us. They are just a bad matchup for us."
Foul trouble played a large part in a fragmented first half. Sophomore forward Xavier Tillman picked up his second foul on a moving screen with 9:03 left, and Michigan State leading 17-11. After that, the Wolverines finished the half on a 20-6 run, with Brazdeikis hitting three three-pointers and scoring 12 points.
"I live for championships," Izzo said.