University of Michigan handed Michigan State its first loss in conference play Saturday night, defeating the Spartans 80-75.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo described himself as “crushed” after the loss, but seemed to be proud of his short-handed team.
“This team played as hard as any team I’ve coached this year,” Izzo said. “We had some guys that I questioned whether or not I’d go to war with them, I’d go to war with more of them today.”
Michigan State was without Adreian Payne for the fourth straight game due to a foot injury. Branden Dawson missed the game with a broken hand.
“I don’t think we outrebound them with those two (Payne and Dawson),” Michigan head coach John Beilein said.
Michigan outrebounded the Spartans 34-30.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 10-2 lead early in the first, but MSU’s smothering defense got the team back in the game. Michigan State led 36-30 at halftime.
Michigan State out-rebounded Michigan 18-13 in the first half while winning the turnover battle 4-3. They finished the game with five turnovers.
The second half was back and forth for much of the period, but Michigan’s Nik Stauskas hit a three with 3:12 to play to break a 60-60 tie and put the Wolverines up for good.
Michigan hit 14-16 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to stifle any hopes of a Michigan State comeback.
Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Alvin Ellis III all scored in double figures for the Spartans. Harris continued his hot streak and scored a game high 27. Appling added 10 assists to his 10 points for his first career double-double. Ellis had 12 points on 4-4 shooting in only 11 minutes of play.
Despite quality defense from Harris on Stauskas, he and freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr. each scored 19 points for Michigan. Stauskas was 7-12 from the field and 5-6 from three point range.
“If he’s got (a shot) he’s knocking it down,” Harris said of Stauskas. “That’s why he’s leading the conference in scoring.”
Michigan State looks to bounce back in another tough game Tuesday on the road against the No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports