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Michigan State blown out at Rutgers for second-straight year, losing 84-63

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 13 Michigan State Spartans took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday afternoon and left with a gigantic and glaring loss. The Spartans were blown out by 21 points in an afternoon performance that could hardly have gone worse offensively for the team in the second half. Rutgers won by a final score of 84-63.

The lone bright spot in the afternoon’s action was Gabe Brown finding his stroke from deep again, as he finished with the game-high for either team in scoring with 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Brown also led the team on the glass with five rebounds.

Marcus Bingham Jr. added 12 points and was the only other Spartan in double figures for scoring, and he also notched two blocks. A.J. Hoggard led the team in helpers with five assists, while Max Christie added four assists.

The Scarlet Knights saw all five starters score in double figures, along with Dean Reiber coming off the bench for 12 points.

Rutgers jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first minute of game action and held onto the lead for almost the entire first half. Michigan State kept the game close, trailing mostly by five points for the half. The Scarlet Knights did manage to push the lead out to eight points four different times, though. The first was on a layup by Paul Mulcahy with 14:37 to go, leading 14-6 on the basket. Michigan State’s Julius Marble quickly cut it back to six with a pair of free throws with 14:13.

The game went back-and-forth again with Reiber scoring another layup for RU with 13:06 to go, but Bingham hit his own driving layup with 12:53 to cut the lead back to six, trailing 10-16. Caleb Mcconnell hit a jumper with 12:40, but Christie’s three-pointer at the 12:19 mark cut the deficit back to five, with the Scarlet Knights leading 18-13.

Michigan State continued to trade baskets with Rutgers, but ate into the lead again as Brown hit a three-pointer with 5:54 to go to bring it to within two points, but McConnell scored on the other end and Rutgers led 27-23. The Spartans managed to tie it up at 28 with 4:26 on a layup by Bingham, but Rutgers’ stubborn efforts continued to thwart any offensive runs by MSU that tried to take the lead. Brown managed to hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to close the first half, but Rutgers still led 40-38 going into the locker rooms.

Michigan State finished the half trailing on the glass 14-13. Rutgers also outscored the Spartans in the paint 18-10, while shooting 44.4 percent from deep. Michigan State was OK with settling for three-point attempts, however, with 16 of the team’s 30 attempts from the field coming from deep. MSU shot 50 percent from behind the arc, though, with Brown hitting 4-for-5.

Any momentum Michigan State had going into the locker room apparently decided to get an early start to Newark International Airport to beat game-day traffic home because the Spartans came out flatter than a blown tire on the New Jersey Turnpike. Rutgers opened the half on a 7-0 run before MSU finally responded with a jumper down low by Bingham at the 16:43 mark after a Scarlet Knight turnover. Not too long after a three-pointer by Brown and a hook-shot by Marble cut Rutgers’ lead to five points. A layup by Hall managed to bring it within three, with Rutgers up 50-47 with 13:55 to go.

Rutgers went on an 11-0 run from there and never looked back. Between aHall layup and an alley-oop from Christie to Bingham at the 8:54 mark to make it 65-52 with RU in the lead, Michigan State scored a single three-pointer by Hoggard compared to Rutgers’ 15 points. The game was all but over at that point, though offense hardly improved for the Spartans, who would score a mere 11 points over the final 8:05 of the game.

Despite his comments Tuesday night regarding the Spartans being out-rebounded of late by teams, Tom Izzo’s squad was dominated on the glass in this one, as Rutgers out-rebounded MSU 31-20. RU had the advantage on both ends with the offensive glass advantage at 10-7 and the defensive glass 21-13. However, important context here is that Rutgers only missed 20 shots on the night, shooting32-for-52 (61.5 percent).

In the paint, the Spartans finished the game with just 16 points to Rutgers’ 38. The Scarlet Knights added 11 points on the fast break and scored 15 points off of 15 MSU turnovers. Michigan State had zero points on the fast break and 12 points on 12 turnovers by Rutgers.

Michigan State moves to 17-5 overall on the season and 8-3 in Big Ten play. The Spartans welcome Wisconsin to the Breslin Center on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. with the game being broadcast on the Big Ten Network.