For a team that was standing at 1-6 in the Big Ten not so long ago, the Michigan Wolverines have come a long way. After falling to 1-6 in conference play, the Wolverines have fought their way back to respectability.
For a team that was ranked #2 in the nation entering the year, the Michigan St. Spartans have also come a long way. But they've come a long way in the wrong direction. Before this year, John Beilein had not beaten MSU. Now? The last remnants of the Spartans have been swept away.
Michigan State got off to a poor start, missing their first nine shots of the game and falling into a 10-1 hole before getting their first field goal of the game (a Kalin Lucas jumper coming 6:18), making it 10-3. But Michigan took a 15-3 lead soon after, and the Spartans found themselves in a furious battle to come from behind. Michigan took an 8 point lead at the half, and took control of the game from there.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Four Michigan players got into double figures, including Hardaway, and it would be the good shooting of Jordan Morgan (4 of 5 from the floor) and Evan Smotrycz (4 of 6 overall, 5 of 5 from the line) that got the Wolverines off to a good start.
Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 20 points, but he managed a little of everything to help his team out, giving 3 assists and 2 defensive rebounds. Jordan Morgan had 10 points, Evan Smotrycz 14 points, and Darius Morris 13 points. Not outstanding, yet still solid. Morris found his way into double figures despite having an awful day from the floor, hitting just 3 shots on 11 attempts (he would make 7 of his 8 free throws). Morris had a team-high 6 assists, and Morgan a team-high 7 rebounds.
Michigan State got 25 points from Kalin Lucas, but also got an undesired 4 turnovers from their leading scorer. Durrell Summers had 13 points, Keith Appling 10 points; and no Spartan aside those three managed double figures. Draymond Green? A horrible day from the floor: 3 of 14 shooting for 7 points, 0-4 from outside. Summers had a bad game as well (despite reaching double figures), managing 4 of 15 shooting. Summers was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, and a team-high 13 rebounds.
What's left for both teams? The Big Ten tournament. MSU's struggles this year, especially against top competition, do not necessarily guarantee that they'll be in the NCAA tournament. If the Spartans go down in the first round, they might not make it at all.