Michigan State pulls out the ugly win in a 55 possession game in Ann Arbor.
Michigan got off to a decent start but the wheels started falling off when Stu Douglass picked up his second foul with 10:35 remaining. Michigan was down 11-10 at that point but Michigan State finished the half on a 12-5 run over the next 10 minutes. Michigan scored only 2 points in the last 9 minutes of the half, the offense just couldn’t produce once Douglass went to the bench.
I’m not sure exactly why but I think going forward this team needs Douglass on the court a lot more than 17 minutes. Even when Douglass isn’t hitting his shots he makes the right pass or the right cut, and everything flows. With Lucas-Perry on the floor the offense is much more stagnant and usually resulted in a Manny Harris isolation play with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. This happened at least 4 or 5 times in the first half and Manny didn’t get any good looks.
The first half really spiraled out of control in the final 2 minutes when a four point lead ballooned to eight. That might not sound like a lot but these three plays really swung the momentum in Michigan State’s favor at halftime:
- Korie Lucious double dribble is missed, ends up in easy Michigan State layup.
- A Grady three pointer rattles around the rim before rolling out.
- Gibson misses two free throws after an intentional foul negates what was an easy dunk before Novak’s three point attempt is blocked.
The second half was a different beast. Michigan made several runs in the second half and then Michigan State would push the lead back to double digits. Michigan just couldn’t get over the hump as they continuously shot themselves in the foot. You have to give credit to Michigan State for making the big plays but a lot of the blame falls on Michigan for not making the plays themselves. Every time that Michigan had a chance to cut the lead to one possession something happened; anything from an easy baby hook that rolled in and out, a turnover right after a steal, an errant pass out of bounds or poor shot selection — there was always something.
Michigan had the lead cut to four points with 4:25 left to play but a Manny Harris pull up three point shot bricked off the iron before Kalin Lucas drained a three pointer on the other end. Michigan forced a turnover after cutting the back down to 5 points after a pair of Douglass free throws. But in the end, Manny Harris tried to take it himself on the 2 on 3 fastbreak and Travis Walton made a hell of a play to knock the ball out. Those were probably Michigan’s two best chances to really make this a game.
The fact that Michigan even had a chance late in the game is remarkable when you consider that they were 4 of 24 from long range and turned the ball over on 23.6% of their possessions. In the end the difference in this game was at the free throw line. Michigan State got to the line more often with a free throw rate of 44.2% to Michigan’s 23.9% and also shot a higher percentage when they got there (78.9% compared to Michigan’s dreadful 54.5%). Michigan held tough on the glass but in the end turnovers and poor shooting got the best of them.
The good news is that this team seems to have learned how to play defense. The bad news is that they still can’t seem to play solid offense in conference. This loss hurts for a multitude of reasons but most of all it is now or never for Michigan’s NCAA tournament hopes. The next four games will determine Michigan’s tournament chances: @Northwestern, Minnesota, @Iowa, and Purdue. At this point it looks like Michigan probably needs a 4-game winning streak.
Quick Notes: Trey Zeigler was at the game and got an earful from the Michigan State team as they ran by after the final buzzer. Is there any kind of penalty for a coach being on the floor during play? I guess not if you are Tom Izzo.
- DeShawn Sims: Great game for DeShawn, without him this would have be a rout. Peedi had a monster second half en route to 18 points on 9 of 14 shooting with 4 rebounds and a steal. DeShawn did all of his work down low until late in the game and if he can find that post presence down the stretch that would be a big boost for Michigan.
- Manny Harris: Not Manny’s greatest game to say the least. There were several people calling for Manny’s head in the comments and after watching the game again I wouldn’t go quite that far. Manny definitely didn’t have a good game but Travis Walton is a great defender and watching the tape he did a great job on Manny all night. Manny also had 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals so he contributed in other ways. He did get backdoored at least once (on the alley oop) and I think once more in the second half by Durrell Summers; falling asleep on defense has to stop.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: Ugh, nothing good here. Laval hit a three but he just looked bad all around. Bad defense, bad offense, bad ball handling. I don’t know what to do here. Right now this system isn’t clicking for Laval Lucas-Perry, his struggles go well beyond a shooting slump.
- Zack Novak: Novak is a gamer, he is clearly worn down from guarding big men all year long but he had some flashes of great play. His best stretch included a three point make, a three point miss followed by an offensive board and dish to Sims, and a great back door pass to Sims for a dunk.
- Stu Douglass: Stu can’t afford to pick up that many fouls. Some of them were cheap and some of them were on hustle plays but at this point Michigan needs Stu on the floor.
- Zack Gibson: Besides those two missed free throws this was a great game for Zack. He did just about everything that you could ask of him in my book.
- CJ Lee: I found out when I got home that CJ was throwing up in a trash can during the second half. There is nothing you can’t love about this kid. Michigan could use a little scoring out of CJ but I thought he did a great job against Kalin Lucas despite Lucas scoring a few points down the stretch.
- Kelvin Grady, Jevohn Shepherd, Dave Merritt: These three gave Michigan nothing.