EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team suffered a 71-54 loss Saturday (Jan. 17) at Michigan State for its second Big Ten Conference loss of the season. First-half play proved to be key in the turnout of the contest, with the Wolverines (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten) falling to a nine-point deficit after the first 20 minutes of play. Michigan was able to keep pace with the Spartans throughout the second half but was unable to get enough going to create a run and take the lead.
Horton made five triples and scored a team-high 20 points.
The first half began as a three-point shootout, with the first six of the first seven baskets being triples. At the outset, momentum was with the Spartans, as they were able to convert almost all shot opportunities into points. The Wolverines struggled to keep the ball on their side of the floor but found themselves down by only two after a Horton triple made the score 11-9 Spartans going into the first media timeout (15:58).
Michigan continued to warm up the offense, with freshman forward Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough HS) turning a feed from Horton into a slam to tie the contest at 11. The teams went back and forth in scoring, with the Maize and Blue able to maintain a one-point lead.
The Spartans and the Wolverines then went into a stalemate, with the contest remaining scoreless for nearly four minutes until Horton connected for a triple with 10:11 remaining in the half. But Michigan State then took the score and ran with it, holding the Wolverines to just four points in 10 minutes. The Spartans went on a 14-4 run, taking the lead with five minutes left in the first half. Michigan was having trouble connecting for points in the paint, mainly keeping the ball around the perimeter.
Michigan showed a spark down 30-21, as sophomore wing Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) was able to put up two points off a Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep HS) steal. However, the Wolverines did not have enough time to make it closer before the buzzer took the teams into the locker rooms with a 32-23 score in favor of the Spartans.
Down by nine, the Wolverines found themselves in a deep hole at the start of the second half. Despite the deficit, Michigan was able to keep pace with Michigan State, staying within that nine-point range. The second-half matchup remained even as the Wolverines found themselves actually leading in second-half scoring for the first nine minutes of play. At 11:04, Michigan had outscored Michigan State 17-16, leaving the Maize and Blue down 48-40.
Michigan State was not letting up, maintaining a steady scoring pace to keep the Wolverines at a safe distance. While the Spartans seemed to sink almost all their shots, Michigan was not capitalizing on scoring opportunities. Shooting only 39.1 percent for the half, Michigan went 9-for-23 from the field compared to Michigan State's 12-for-18 (66.7 percent).
The Spartans would not allow the Wolverines within striking range, countering all of Michigan's scoring from the field. Each time the Maize and Blue managed to put up points, MSU sank a shot as well. The Spartans stayed strong and went the distance, handing Michigan its second Big Ten loss.
Michigan continues a three-game Big Ten road swing Wednesday (Jan. 21) at Wisconsin. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CST at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423