The Michigan State Spartans went into Ann Arbor tonight to face off against the Michigan Wolverines — a heated rival, and the No. 2-ranked team in the country — and came away with a blowout defeat. Michigan thoroughly dominated this contest in every facet, winning by a final score of 69-50. This was Michigan State’s sixth game in less than two weeks, and understandably, fatigue seems to be settling in for the Spartans.
In what has seemingly become a staple of the 2020-2021 Spartans, Michigan State got off to another slow start, as Michigan raced out to a quick 7-0 lead before an Aaron Henry layup finally got MSU on the board. Henry followed that up with an impressive dunk to cut the Michigan lead to three points with under 15 minutes to play in the first half, but Michigan went on to extend its lead after that.
Both teams traded buckets for the remainder of the first half, and while the Spartans eventually drew within two points with 7:43 to play in the half (Michigan led 18-16), the Wolverines never gave up the lead. Michigan actually closed the last 2:43 of the half out with an 8-2 run and took a 39-28 lead into the locker room at halftime. The stars of both squads — Aaron Henry for Michigan and Hunter Dickinson for Michigan — both got into early foul trouble with two fouls each.
The Wolverines shot a scorching 58 percent in the first half (15-for-26), while the Spartans shot 44 percent from the floor (11-for-25). Michigan State did not hit a three-pointer in just three attempts, while Michigan hit two from deep on five attempts. Michigan had eight first-half turnovers, while Michigan State had seven. The Wolverines also dominated the glass, grabbing 16 rebounds compared to nine for the Spartans.
The second half did not start great for the Spartans, either, as the Wolverines opened up with a 10-4 run. Michigan eventually grew its lead to 18 points, at 54-36, with 12:27 left to play in the game. That score held for several minutes, as neither team scored another point until the 9:03 mark when Michigan’s Franz Wagner hit a pair of free throws. The Wolverines went on another run from there and the Spartans never threatened. It was pure dominance by Michigan.
Michigan finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field (26-for-55), while Michigan State shot a miserable 36.4 percent (20-for-55). MSU didn’t make a single three-pointer tonight on nine attempts from behind the arc, while Michigan made seven deep shots on 16 attempts. Both teams went 10-for-14 form the free-throw line. The Wolverines finished with a plus-six rebounding advantage overall (34-28), although MSU did grab eight offensive boards to U of M’s seven. The Wolverines (14) actually did have more turnovers than the Spartans (12).
Henry led Michigan State with 14 points and five rebounds. No other Spartan scored in double-figures, but Mady Sissoko did finish with eight points of off the bench. Wagner led the way for the Wolverines, scoring 19 points. Hunter Dickinson chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds.
On a more positive note, a loss on the road to the No. 2 team in the nation isn’t going to necessarily hurt Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament hopes too badly, but the Spartans are still on the bubble, and the lopsided margin of victory certainly doesn’t help the team’s case, either.
With the win, Michigan also clinches an outright Big Ten Championship — the Wolverines’ first since 2014.
Michigan State will have a chance to redeem itself on Sunday at the Breslin Center, as Michigan will return the favor and travel to East Lansing for the very next game.