A win at the Breslin Center is always a huge win for a program, but especially for a Michigan team trying to establish dominance in the state. Michigan started off strong, going up 10-2 to start the game. Then Michigan State went on a monster run to take a 30-22 lead. In the end, Michigan never gave up and sealed the game on free throws to win 80-75 in East Lansing.
It was the three-pronged attack of Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, Jr. that kept the Wolverines in the game. Walton had a game that showed his maturation as a point guard, dishing out four assists and grabbing five rebounds. His free throws down the stretch were what finally gave Michigan the cushion to win.
Stauskas and Walton both had 19, and LeVert chipped in with 17. Another key for Michigan was the rebounds pulled in, grabbing four more than the Spartans. LeVert pulled in eight, and Jordan Morgan also had five.
The game was full of passions, as John Beilein got angrier than many have seen the normally serene coach. Jordan Morgan and Russell Byrd of the Spartans also got into a fight after a foul on Glenn Robinson III. There were a lot of fouls, and it’s fair to say the refs missed a few. The Breslin Center crowd was raucous for most of the night, save for a couple of three-pointers by Michigan.
Michigan was down for much of the second half, but the team slowly worked to cut the lead. Glenn Robinson III hit a couple of free throws to tie the game at 60. A three pointer by Nik Stauskas finally put Michigan up, silencing the Breslin Center crowd. This wasn’t his only gesture to the crowd, as he blew the Izzone a kiss as he walked off the court.
Following the three pointer, Walton stormed down the court on a fast break, laying in the ball while being fouled by Keith Appling. The freshman hit the ensuing free throw. He wasn’t done with the clutch buckets however, as a minute later he hit two more free throws to give the Wolverines an eight-point lead.
A couple late threes by Alvin Ellis III and Gary Harris made the game close, and Appling hit a couple of free throws to bring the game within three. LeVert answered with two of his own, and that was all.
This is Michigan’s third win over a Top Ten team, as the Wolverines beat Wisconsin and Iowa within the past week. The Wolverines have now won nine games in a row, and have taken the top spot in Big Ten Standings. The Wolverines play against a struggling Purdue team next Thursday. Michigan hopes to extend its winning streak to 10, coming closer to Michigan’s record of 16. The Wolverines are now 5-2 against the Spartans since the 2010-2011 season.