Spartans earn share of Big Ten with Michigan sweep

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Amanda Poole, Men's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. – With just about everything on the line, No. 10 Michigan State prevailed over No. 7 Michigan at the Breslin Center Saturday night. In a game full of significance: a rivalry matchup, the final game in regular season and a senior night as well, the Spartans took it all with a win 75-63.

The win made it 14 Big Ten championships for MSU and Izzo’s ninth.

Michigan’s Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis lit up the offense with a combined 22 points in the first half alone. With seven steals and 12 points off of turnovers the Wolverines were unstoppable the first 20 minutes.

In an effort for the lead a sequence of a dunk from Thomas Kithier, a smooth layup from Kyle Ahrens and an electric dunk from Xavier Tillman energized the Spartans at the end of the half. They tightened the game at 35-29 heading into the half.

With Cassius Winston sitting on the bench after picking up two fouls in the first half, Michigan took advantage of that open door. The Wolverine shot 50 percent the first half while only turning the ball over three times.

As history repeated itself, the Spartans played better in the second half. The comeback was fueled by crucial plays from Ahrens, McQuaid, and Goins. After a made 3-pointer from Goins, the Spartans were out for blood at 50-48.

Fresh out of halftime Winston was fired up. Well-rested and ready to make an impact, he did just that. His first made 3-pointer of the night put the Spartans on top 53-50. After snatching the lead, the Spartans clung onto it the rest of the game.

Winston ended the night with 23 points, 16 coming in the second half.

The momentum built from Winston’s offense carried Michigan State to the finish line. The Wolverines struggled to hit their shots, shooting 10-for-32 in the second half, leaving them to deal with a scorching hot Winston on the other end of the court.

With just five minutes left in the game, Michigan lost all offensive punch after Brazdeikis fouled out. The Spartans outscored the Wolverines 46-28 in the final half.

Feeding off of the cheerful Spartan fans within the Izzone, MSU became relentless on the court. Tillman reflected the winning mentality with 17 points, two steals, five blocks, six rebounds to end the game.

Although the Spartans fell flat the first half, they relied on big moments from the entire team to prevail and earn a share of the Big Ten Title. After a wide-open dunk from McQuaid the Spartans’ senior night became a success.

The Spartans claimed their first back-to-back title since 2009-10 while also earning the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State will move forward and compete in Chicago, Ill. next week.