We don’t need much of an overview here. For the first time in nearly a year and a half in any major sport, Michigan State beat Michigan at the Crisler Center just a few weeks ago. The Wolverines failed to deliver an early knockout and the Spartans managed to score enough points to extend their lead against a struggling Wolverine attack.
Beilein’s squad had a six-point lead over Izzo’s team before Michigan State closed the game 32-19 to win 77-70 at Ann Arbor.
Michigan State shot 50 percent from the field and only returned the ball six times. Cassius Winston took out the frustration of a career against Zavier Simpson, losing 27 points on 7 of 13 shots from the field and 13 of 14 from the free throw line. Three more Michigan state starters hit double digits with Matt McQuaid, Xavier tillman, and Kenny Goins scoring 13, 14 and 16 respectively. Goins capped his double-double effort with 11 rebounds to start.
The Spartans didn’t play spectacularly, but they did whatever it took to beat Michigan. They shot the ball pretty well, made their free throws, didn’t return the ball, and kept Michigan’s offense ineffective.
To that end, only one Michigan starter shot over 50 percent from the field. It was Jon teske, who had 10 points on 3 of 5 shots. The Wolverines shot 39.7% from the field and 26.9% from three in the first meeting, notches that will not be good enough to beat a team of the caliber of the Spartans. Charles Matthew, who is questionable to play today, has only made one of his eight field goal attempts.
Solid free throws, a surprise to some, kept the attack afloat. Simpson had 19 points and five rebounds to pace the team. Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan poole combined for 31 points on 24 shots, although they were combined at 3 of 12 behind the arc.
Going into tonight, the key will be for Michigan to play a better defense than they did in the first meeting while landing the big punches they are capable of at the start. I would go so far as to say that Michigan’s top six players are capable of playing at a high level and taking shots. You just have to synchronize them to do it. We’ve seen it in the deep demolitions of UNC, Villanova, and Ohio State.
In their last loss, the Spartans turned the ball over 14 times against the Indiana Hoosiers. In their three previous losses, Winston and Company have turned the ball 24 times against Illinois, 10 against Indiana (again) and 12 against Purdue. This is the key. Power turns, especially from Winston – who had nine in the Illini disaster – and you’ve got a good shot to come out on top.
Know how Zavier Simpson tends to react to things like this, I think we’ll see a much more Wolverines defense inspired team effort.
How to watch:
Teams: n ° 7 Michigan Wolverine (26-4) against n ° 9 Michigan State Spartans (24-6)
Dated: Saturday March 9
Site: Breslin Center – East Lansing, Michigan.
Television: ESPN (WatchESPN link here)
Question of the day: Will Charles Matthew play today, and what can he bring if he does?