#2 Michigan State Upset by #15 Michigan Wolverines in New York City 75-64

MSU vs UM BTT 18 Miles Bridges and Xavier Tillman (PHOTO:  Kaj Hansen)
MSU vs UM BTT 18 Miles Bridges and Xavier Tillman (PHOTO: Kaj Hansen)

#2 Michigan State Upset by the Michigan Wolverines in New York City 75-64

Madison Square Garden

New York City, NY

The#2 Michigan State Spartans took on the #15 Michigan Wolverines for the second time this year and for the second time, the Wolverines upset the Spartans. This time Michigan won by a 75-64 score. It was a frustrating game for a Spartan team that had won12 games and in a row and was coming off of their best regular season record of all time.

Tom Izzo said afterward that, “I'll be honest, I was really disappointed in how we started out and kind of like my old buddy Brian Gregory says, what starts bad sometimes ends bad. And it wasn't the start that -- Matthews hits two 3s and Simpson hits a 3. That's nine points that they normally don't get. But it was the things that we had in the scouting report on how they drove us, which way they drove us, that we didn't seem to pick up as well as I thought we would. And because of that -- and still it was a game and us not playing our best. I don't know what John felt about his team playing their best, but both of us didn't play real well the first half. They just had a better start. We had a better finish. In the second half, I thought it changed when Wagner hit that 3 in the corner. We acted surprise that he was going to shoot it. I think it put them up two or three. And then something else happened and then, of course, the missed layup and I guess the good shot from long range. And then we were playing catch-up.”

The Spartans simply didn’t have answers for a Michigan team that played with defensive intensity and a chip on the proverbial shoulder like they do. Michigan simply wanted it more.

Izzo addressed that Michigan defensive intensity, “I think they're a little tougher, personally. I think Matthews is a great athlete that prides himself on guarding. And Simpson 100 percent prides himself on his defense. So you've got two pretty good defenders in places where -- that I think is important. I think the young freshman, Livers, I thought does a pretty good job defending. I think they've got a couple of players that are better defensive players. And maybe, I don't know, him, their staff still figured out at the end of the day you do gotta check people well to win. And as evident by our second half. I mean, they shoot 66 percent. I thought we did. I bet you the last 16 minutes of the first half we probably held them in the 20s. And we kind of disappeared from that in the second half. So I think his team is a better defensive team. Some of it is players and I don't know if some of it is coaching staff and what they did. But I think they are better defensively.”

The Wolverines head coach John Beilein was in a much more jovial mood than Izzo as you can imagine. He said of the tilt, “Great game, incredible atmosphere here at Madison Square Garden that -- played in the Big East championship game before. It has every element that you could ever want and even more because the Michigan-Michigan State being here. But basically many of our teams would have commanded that same audience. So great idea. I don't think anybody liked the timing being a little bit earlier, but I think in the long run anybody who attended that game today knew it was well worth it for us to make this trip. So much respect for Michigan State. We beat a really, really good basketball team, a team that deserves where they are, top 1 to 10 ranking. They can win the national championship. Everybody needs breaks to do that. But they're a fantastic team and we're very appreciative that we were able to get a win today.”

Miles Bridges led the way for the men in green. He had 17 points and seven rebounds. Jaren Jackson, Jr. (3J) had 13 points and seven rebounds and Cassius Winston rounded out the Spartans in double digits. He had 11 points, five assists, and four boards.

Cassius Winston said of the contest, “It was a big game. But it's not the end of our season. There's still another big goal that we're very capable of achieving. So we just gotta use this to fuel our fire. I think everybody didn't play their best game today. And we just gotta get back (indiscernible) to the shop and become that team we can become.”

Bridges echoed the sentiment of Winston, “We're just going to try to move on, get back in practice and continue to get better.”

The Spartans had their eye on a number one seed in the NCAA tournament and possibly playing in Detroit during the first two rounds. That now seems farfetched at best. So what is next for the Spartans who could have as much as a 13-day layoff between games?

Izzo said, “No, I haven't ever been through that. I think it's 11 or 12 days, either way, I guess, or maybe more. What is it, Saturday? We played on Friday. That could be 13 days, huh? I don't know what I'm going to do. And the best part is we're on spring break next week. So we might just go to the beach, East Lansing, and see if we can play a little beach basketball and -- we're going to do something. We talked about doing something in Chicago and going over and seeing Zel play. We might go down and see the Pistons or do something as a team. The one thing that I would remind everybody, this team has won 12 games in a row and won 29 games this season. And through some trying times, and I think that I'm going to appreciate a lot. Now, do we have to get it back on track? Yeah, we do. Cash struggled out here. He's been playing so good but he struggled out here. And we just had some guys that didn't do the things they needed to do. But they've done the things they've needed to do over a long period of time. And I'm going to keep that in mind, not panic over a loss when it's your rival. It's always a bigger win when it's playing for a chance to play in the championship game. Of course, it's a bigger one. But I've got a lot of pride in these guys and what they've done and how they've worked through some circumstances that had nothing to do with them. And I'm really pleased with that and proud of them, to be honest with you. So we'll get better. We'll probably practice a lot during that time. I mean, it will be one time in my life the NCAA has no rules on us. It's -- we're on break and we don't have any games. That doesn't happen very often. In fact, it's never happened to me.”

MSU only had eight turnovers, but they lost the battle of the boards 36-33. The Spartans shot an abysmal 33% and killed themselves settling for jump shots. Besides a clear advantage in the paint (32-20) they consistently settled for the jumper that they couldn’t hit.

The Spartans will now wait until next Sunday at 5 PM ET to learn their seeding and where they go to play. Until then they wait.

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