Saturday, December 4, 2021

FINAL: Michigan 69, MSU 50, Spartans fall in 2nd-half bloodbath

March 4, 2021
<p>Junior forward Aaron Henry (0) makes the first basket for Michigan State in the first half of the game. The Wolverines crushed the Spartans, 69-50, at Crisler Center on March 4, 2021.</p>

Junior forward Aaron Henry (0) makes the first basket for Michigan State in the first half of the game. The Wolverines crushed the Spartans, 69-50, at Crisler Center on March 4, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

After halftime, Michigan State came out of the maize and blue locker room with a chance to keep it close. 

Until close slipped to a 10-point deficit.

Then 15.

Then almost 20.

All the Spartans had proved by hanging around with the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in the first 20 minutes vanished before their eyes as a 10-0 Michigan run crumbled the Spartans' momentum. 

Michigan State men’s basketball lost 69-50 to in-state rival Michigan on Thursday evening in a second-half blood bath that the Wolverines controlled entirely. Michigan State only scored 22 points in the second half of the game in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines clinched the Big Ten regular-season title with the win, which is Michigan's first outright regular-season championship since 2014.

For a team admittedly fighting fatigue, the Spartans came out of the gates with aggression. In the first half, MSU's defense forced eight Michigan turnovers, and the Spartans capitalized with eight points from those.

Junior forward Aaron Henry brought energy to the Spartans with two slams through Michigan traffic in the first half, the first potentially one of the plays of the year as Henry skied toward the rack for a slam over Michigan senior forward Isaiah Livers.

But a dominant Michigan run to start off the second half exposed MSU’s fatigue. 

Shots fell short based on how the Spartans shot 30% in the second half compared to their 44% first-half shooting from the field. MSU made zero threes on their nine attempts from deep. It was a bad offensive showing against one of the best teams in the Big Ten Conference.

Graduate student guard Joshua Langford scored zero points in the second half, watching his usual-reliable jumpers ricochet from the rim.

Redshirt junior forward Joey Hauser found a wide-open look from the point late in the second, but the shot bounced around the rim before falling into the hands of a Michigan defender. It was representative of his offensive output as he only had six points on 3-of-7 shooting with four boards.

Junior forward Gabe Brown saw his only two points from the free-throw line, putting up just two shots despite his recent shooting rhythm.

Henry, who has proved to be MSU's saving grace, scored just four second-half points after his 10-point first half.

MSU sunk into an over nine-minute stretch with no field goals before Hauser knocked down a jumper to help the Spartans breathe again. Redshirt junior guard Jack Hoiberg checked in during that stretch, a move Head Coach Tom Izzo voiced he would make prior to the game.

The Spartans struggled to find an answer to Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson. The 7-foot-1, 255-pound freshman center ended the night with 14 points.

The Wolverines celebrated clenching the 2021 Big Ten regular-season title with the victory.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday in East Lansing.

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