U-M beats MSU for third straight time
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has been completely flipped upside down.
The Spartans have won four straight in football, but the Wolverines won their third in a row Tuesday night in basketball.
Say it ain’t so, Izzo.
Michigan State’s Draymond Green missed a pull-up jumper in the lane as time expired, setting off a celebration by the Wolverines, who hung on for a 60-59 victory at Crisler Center.
It’s the first time Michigan has won three straight in the series since a five-game streak from 1996-98.
“That’s something we’re really taking a lot of pride in,” Michigan senior captain Zack Novak said. “We’ve got to get that back going in our favor. Tonight was another step.”
Before the two victories over Michigan State last season, Michigan had lost 18 of 21 to coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
“In the last 10 or 12 years, it hasn’t been much of a rivalry,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Our thing is we’re trying to win a Big Ten championship. You’ve got to beat (teams) you admire to win a Big Ten championship. Got to go through Michigan State, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
While Beilein didn’t want to make too much out of one victory, he did concede this much about beating the arch-rival: “It’s good for the perception.”
The 20th-ranked Wolverines (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) moved ahead of the ninth-ranked Spartans (15-4, 4-2) in the conference standings by half a game.
Michigan State has lost its last two games, including Saturday at Northwestern, following a 15-game winning streak.
Center Derrick Nix summed up the Spartans’ point of view best.
“I feel like I just got broke up with, or somebody cheated on me,” said Nix, who led MSU with 13 points.
The rivalry has definitely taken a serious turn the last couple years. A raucous, sellout crowd of 12,721 — mostly Michigan fans — created a great college-basketball atmosphere inside Crisler. It was completely different than some other games in recent years when Michigan State fans seemingly took over the arena.
The Spartans rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a four-point lead with 4:21 remaining.
Michigan freshman point guard Trey Burke, however, was the difference. He finished with a game-high 20 points, and one of his three assists came on the winning basket.
Burke chased down a long rebound off of a miss by MSU’s Keith Appling and turned it into a fast-break layup for Stu Douglass to give Michigan its 60-59 lead with 35 seconds to go.
“After my third dribble, I felt somebody hit the ball out of my hand, but they kind of popped it up,” Burke said. “I caught it . . . and I saw Stu out of my corner of my eye at the last moment. It was kind of luck. We had some luck tonight. We took it.”
Michigan State had two shots to try to win it in the final 10 seconds. Michigan center Jordan Morgan blocked Appling and then Green misfired.
“I got it up on the rim, and I just couldn’t get the bounce,” said Green, who had 11 rebounds but only seven points.
Green also attempted a desperation tip, but that didn’t come close.
How can you not appreciate a rivalry game that goes down to the last shot?
This was the first time in 14 years that these teams were both ranked when they played each other. It’s a testament to the job Beilein has done to reload after losing point guard Darius Morris early to the NBA, and that Izzo has done to regroup with a younger team coming off a frustrating 19-15 season.
The rapid development of Burke has made it all possible for the Wolverines. He simply doesn’t look like a freshman on the floor — ever.
The much anticipated match-up between Burke and Appling, Michigan State’s sophomore point guard, lived up to the billing.
Burke got the best of it in the end.
Appling had some foul trouble and finished with 10 points, five assists and four turnovers in 31 minutes.
“Our young guys really looked young," Izzo said. “We didn’t have enough guys do enough things right so a lot of it came to Keith, Keith, Keith, Keith, Keith to death.”
Although all five Michigan starters actually played more minutes than Appling, Izzo indicated that the burden put on Appling was so severe that it forced him to wear down.
“By the end, he was just walking on his knees,” Izzo said. “Keith had nothing left.”
It was a tough night for Izzo from the start. The Michigan fans taunted him with chants of “Angry midget” before the game.
His team then fell down by nine in the first five minutes. The Spartans, to their credit, made an impressive comeback in a tough environment.
But they found out that these Wolverines are considerably different than the ones who had rolled over for more than a decade in this rivalry.