Sharp-shooting Michigan routs Michigan State 86-57
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Derrick Walton and Michigan had more at stake than just bragging rights against rival Michigan State.
”We don’t think we’ve played as well as our talent shows,” Walton said.
Walton had 20 points and eight assists, and Michigan rolled to an 86-57 victory over the Spartans on Tuesday night to equal its most lopsided victory over Michigan State since 1948. The Wolverines continued their enigmatic run through Big Ten play – they beat Indiana by 30 on Jan. 26, then lost at Michigan State and at home to Ohio State before routing the Spartans in Tuesday’s rematch.
Michigan showed plenty of urgency from the start. The last time the Wolverines beat Michigan State by more was in a 66-33 victory Dec. 4, 1948. Michigan also beat the Spartans by 29 in a 75-46 win in 1996 – in Tom Izzo’s first season as Michigan State’s coach.
The Wolverines led 55-29 at halftime Tuesday after shooting 75 percent from the field – and 8 of 11 from 3-point range – through the first 20 minutes. The lead didn’t change much during the second half.
”These are the troubles we’ve been going through all year. We’ve been having great practices and then come to the game, and we’re not bringing it,” Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges said. ”We didn’t come to play.”
Bridges scored 15 points for the Spartans. Moe Wagner scored 19 for Michigan, which snapped a five-game losing streak in the series.
As well as the Wolverines (15-9, 5-6) played offensively in the first half, they also did a good job disrupting the Spartans on defense, forcing early shot-clock violations that set the tone for the game. Michigan State turned it over 12 times in the first half, enabling the sharp-shooting Wolverines to open a huge lead.
The Spartans had 21 turnovers for the game.
”It was one of those days,” Izzo said. ”We haven’t had many of those where we – complete meltdown. Today was one of them.”
D.J. Wilson’s dunk capped a stretch of seven consecutive made field goals by the Wolverines and put Michigan up 41-24. That streak ended moments later, but the Wolverines closed the half by making another five shots in a row, including Duncan Robinson’s 3-pointer from the left corner on the final play.
Michigan started the second half with a layup by Wagner and a dunk by Wilson, and Michigan State (14-10, 6-5) took an immediate timeout, down by 30.
Michigan State: The Spartans hadn’t allowed an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field all season. Michigan finished at 60 percent. The Spartans play four of their next five games at home, but this was certainly quite a wake-up call after a modest two-game winning streak.
Michigan: The loss to Ohio State was a low point for Michigan, but the Wolverines bounced back in the best way imaginable. Another loss at home would have put their NCAA Tournament hopes in a very precarious position.
The Wolverines have been criticized for being soft over the years, and they had a terrible time rebounding in the loss last weekend to Ohio State. Wagner and Wilson, Michigan’s top frontcourt players, showed plenty of energy against Michigan State. Wilson was given a technical foul when he appeared to yell in the direction of a Michigan State player after a dunk.
A technical was later called on Michigan State’s Nick Ward when he appeared to trip Wagner . Ward said it wasn’t intentional.
Michigan coach John Beilein described an interesting motivational technique he used in the days leading up to the game.
”A picture of like a Doberman that I wanted them to go out and play like. I think it was a Doberman, but he had big teeth,” Beilein said. ”I’ve showed them dogs before. A whole lineage of poodles – people play like this, and this is who we’ve got to be.”
The Wolverines seemed to get the message that Beilein wanted a fiercer attitude.
Michigan State: The Spartans host Iowa on Saturday night.
Michigan: The Wolverines visit Indiana for a rematch with the Hoosiers on Sunday.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister
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