Things couldn’t have gone any worse for Michigan heading into East Lansing, not only losing to their state rival, but dropping a game for the third time in four outings with their worst performance of the season, while Tom Izzo had his players, and especially Gary Harris do what Izzo teams do beat – surprise everyone with just how good Michigan State can be.
To say the Wolverines were took an “off” offensive night wouldn’t be telling the truth. They lost 52-75, their first double digit loss of the season while scoring the lowest amount of points they have all year. They were held under 40 percent from the field for just the 4th time this season. They committed a season-high 16 turnovers and they were outrebounded by a 11, their worst rebound margin of the season.
It was an embarrassing loss. That was the worst we’ve played in a long, long time and credit Michigan State for that. They bullied us. We couldn’t get anywhere we wanted to and when we had open looks, we didn’t hit anything. Somehow, we did not play with poise that we need to have to make shots.
Things couldn’t have been better for Michigan State, pulling off their biggest win over Michigan since 2002. They turned the ball over just eight times, shot at over 48% from the field and their players were simply at their best. Even Izzo said after the game he thought this was the best he has seen his team play in three years. It was the fifth biggest win for the Spartans in the rivalry’s history.
The game was big, more than usual, for a number of reasons. It was the first time two 20 win teams met this season, and it was the first time in history that the schools met up while both in the AP top 10. State came in as the #8 seed, something that will probably change once the new rankings come out next Monday, while Michigan will take another hit to their Big Ten bid, losing for the fourth time in Conference play and for a third time on the road to a ranked rival.
Trey Burke had a solid game (18 points on 7-11 from the field), but he was all alone in the battle. Tim Hardaway Jnr had his worst game of the season, making only 1-11 from the field, clearly out of his depth, scoring only 2 points. This was the second time in five games that Hardaway shot this bad and scored in double digits, although last time, against Northwestern, there was enough to back up his weak display.
The early talk of the Wolverines being national title contenders might have been too soon. The Spartans, as usual, have flown under the rader, but Tom Izzo has a team that might not be the most talented in the Big Ten, but has enough tools to make life very hard for everyone. Michigan, despite their reliance on the fantastic Burke and Hardaway, look like a group of guys that tend to fold under pressure which doesn’t bode well for the way they’re going to finish the season.