Saturday, October 23, 2021

FINAL: MSU 70, No. 2 Michigan 64, Spartans punch back in upset of Wolverines

March 7, 2021
<p>Junior guard Gabe Brown (44) shoots a layup during the Spartans&#x27; upset against No. 2 Michigan on March 7, 2021</p>

Junior guard Gabe Brown (44) shoots a layup during the Spartans' upset against No. 2 Michigan on March 7, 2021

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Chemistry.

That’s what drove the Spartans to their 70-64 victory Sunday evening against the regular-season Big Ten Champions No. 2 Michigan (19-3, 14-3 Big Ten).

It was the chemistry between Rocket Watts and Joey Hauser, a keen connection that kept the fire alive for the green and white. Hauser scored his first four points by the 14:08 mark in the first half, which were off assists from Watts.

Watts went on to collect a total of 21 points and was MSU's best player on offense. He played 33 minutes and had four assists while Hauser followed closely with 11 points, getting benched at 7:08 in the second half with foul trouble — but it was the elder statesmen and incumbent guard, Joshua Langford, that iced the game with 49 seconds to play on a catch and shoot 3-pointer.

It was a defining moment for Watts after he didn't play the last 17 minutes of the previous game between MSU and Michigan on Thursday.

And was the defining moment for the Spartans' (15-11, 9-11 Big Ten) postseason hopes after the team pulled off a third win over an AP Top-5 team in the past two weeks after defeating Illinois and Ohio State in back-to-back games.

There wasn’t too much court time for Langford in the first half after he was replaced with Jack Hoiberg with 4:51 left in the half. The graduate student ended his likely final game at the Breslin with only seven points and in foul trouble.

Aaron Henry scored 18 points, going 6-for-13 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line. It was his consistency that helped keep the Spartans in the game for the entire 40 minutes. MSU led by as much as 11 in the second half.

The offensive consistency, combined with Wolverine big Austin Davis fouling out in the second half, helped push MSU over the brink.

MSU’s winning formula: The fewer turnovers the better, came into truthful fruition for a final go-around as the Spartans had a total of eight on Sunday.

Overall the Spartans shot 44% from the field, 36% from behind the 3-point arc and 78% from the line.

Michigan guard Chaundee Brown Jr. led the way for the Wolverines, coming out with a total of 13 points and going 5-for-10 from the field. He was backed up by fellow Wolverine forward Isaiah Livers and guard Mike Smith, who scored 21 points together, center Hunter Dickinson, who added another 12 points and guard Franz Wagner, who added another 10 points.

The Spartans will travel to Indianapolis on Wednesday, March 10, for the Big Ten Tournament, which is to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium until March 14. Solidified as the No. 9 seed, the Spartans will be playing the No. 8 seed — either the Maryland Terrapins or the Rutgers Scarlet Knights — on Thursday, March 11 at 11:30 a.m.

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