Saturday, July 24, 2021

As Michigan celebrated their Big Ten title, MSU coped with their rivalry loss

March 5, 2021
Michigan takes the title of Big Ten Champions after their win against Michigan State and the team celebrated together. The Wolverines crushed the Spartans, 69-50, at Crisler Center on Mar. 4, 2021.
Michigan takes the title of Big Ten Champions after their win against Michigan State and the team celebrated together. The Wolverines crushed the Spartans, 69-50, at Crisler Center on Mar. 4, 2021. —
Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Maize-colored confetti fell from the ceiling, hailing over the 2021 Big Ten regular season champion Michigan Wolverines. 

In the blink of eye, the green and white bench previously full just feet away, sat empty. 

Prior to Michigan State men’s basketball’s devastating 69-50 loss to Michigan on Thursday, Head Coach Tom Izzo described the in-state rivalry as one of the best in college basketball.

With empty seats in Crisler Arena, the rivalry game looked different, but the sounds of intensity echoing from each bench remained the same. Michigan State, a team admittedly running low on gas, came out with what looked like a spark.

“There was an extra chip on our shoulders to really come out and compete,” redshirt junior forward Joey Hauser said. “We kind of let ourselves down a little bit. We didn’t really do what we planned on doing.”

Michigan drove the Spartans out of Ann Arbor in A second-half manhandling of the Spartans. MSU went over nine minutes without a bucket, their leading scorers saw crooked shots, their stringent defense, opened gaps. 

Head Coach Tom Izzo’s thoughts were described postgame by the Hall of Fame head coach in seven simple words. 

“I’m very disappointed in the way we played,” Izzo said. 

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The game didn’t always look deathly for Michigan State. The Spartans fell into no more than a nine-point deficit in the first half. The team played in a way that left sophomore forward Julius Marble feeling hopeful that his team could upset the No. 2 squad in the nation. 

“Towards the end of the first half with a couple minutes left we were down 7, in the game, we were going on a little bit of a run,” Marble said. “But instead of us buckling down a little bit, we let them get to an eleven-point lead.”

A deficit is nothing new to this Spartan team, who now sits at 14-11 overall and 8-11 in conference play. The Spartans have suffered losses, even ones that have run them out of their own home gym, but against Michigan, at Michigan, in a game where the Wolverines claimed the Big Ten regular-season title, a deficit stung a little more. 

“For me it’s always going to piss me off to be down 20 to a team that we feel like we can beat … but yeah, it means a lot more because it’s Michigan,” Marble said. “I feel pissed off every time that we’re down.”

There was frustration as the Spartans saw their chance of an upset slip away. Junior forward Aaron Henry carried the weight of the team on his back in the first half, until eventually the inevitable proved that no one-man show could beat out Michigan.

“We got Aaron a little frustrated," Izzo said. "We’ll bounce back, we’ve been here before … a lot this year.”

And bouncing back the Spartans must, as they'll compete against Michigan again on Sunday in East Lansing. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. with the game being televised on CBS.

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