Game 31: Michigan State at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

(Mar 5, 2011)  Tim Hardaway Jr, dunks and Spartan Durrell Summers(15) looks disgusted as Um beats MSU, 70-63, Saturday afternoon at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor.  (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News) 2011.bilde[1]20110305170443_030511-dy-MSUvUMmbkb0289A[1]
Photo: Detroit News

Michigan led for the entire game but I never felt comfortable. Now the regular season is over the Wolverines not only swept Michigan State for the first time since 1997, they are 19-12 (9-9) with a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament.  Personally, I’m still trying to figure out what happened. This team was picked 10th or 11th in the league and three months ago I was worrying whether they could beat teams like Harvard and Oakland at home. A month ago I was trying to judge whether Michigan could rebound from a 1-7 stretch to finish the season on a positive note. Now, I’m trying to decipher RPIs and bubble resumes to figure out whether Michigan is actually an NCAA Tournament team. 

This game was a grind and was exactly the sort of game that fans have come to expect in this rivalry. Hard defense combined with physical and emotional play leading average offensive performances. Like most close games, this one boiled down to four or five key possessions. The only difference between this game and recent Michigan State games was that it was Michigan that made the winning plays down the stretch. The Wolverines took punch after punch and never folded.

The Wolverine offense scored 1.08 points per trip with an effective field goal percentage of just 47% – 52% on twos and 26% on threes. For all of the talk about “systems”, it was actually Michigan State that attempted and made more three pointers in this game. It was Michigan that scored more points in the paint (26-20), in transition (6-2), and off of turnovers (13-8). The Wolverines got to the line more often than they have in any game this season besides Indiana and did a reasonable job of making the freebies, connecting on 23 of 31 (74%). Michigan turned the ball over just 6 times all game for a season low 9.2% turnover rate.

Michigan earned this win on the defensive end of the court. The Spartans scored just .97 points per trip and had to work for every basket. Michigan was physical and did everything within their power to force Michigan State to take difficult and contested shots. Michigan State posted an effective field goal percentage of just 39% – 31% on twos and 36% on threes. I’m not sure when the last time Michigan held any team to 31% two point shooting, nonetheless Michigan State. Kalin Lucas made his fair share of brilliant plays but he also had to take 19 shots to get to 25 points. Draymond Green (7 points on 14 shots) and Durrell Summers (13 points on 14 shots) were defended very well. Keith Appling buried a handful of open looks for 10 first half points but only attempted one shot and didn’t score in the second. Similar to the first meeting, Michigan State was unable to get production from their bigs as Nix and Payne barely played and Roe and Sherman combined for 8 points on 3 of 3 shooting. The game was close because the Spartans rebounded 38% of their missed shots. Michigan was actually doing a pretty good job on the defensive glass before Michigan State grabbed six offensive rebounds in the final 4:30 of play.

The most encouraging part of this game is that Michigan didn’t play its best, but was still able to gut out a victory. It was far from perfect but these are the games that good teams win, and also the games that Michigan wasn’t winning earlier this season. When Michigan won in East Lansing it was because they shot the ball as well as they have all season. This win was because Michigan was the tougher team. A team that was good enough to not just win, but lead for 40 minutes, despite a lackluster offensive performance.

Michigan didn’t lock up a bid but they are certainly in a pretty good spot. The Wolverines are locked into the 4/5 game on at 2:30 PM on Friday against Illinois. Winning that game would give Michigan a fourth top 50 win and likely punch Michigan’s ticket. Lose that game and Michigan will have sweaty palms on Sunday. Making the tournament in that situation wouldn’t be impossible but it’d be far from a lock and would likely mean to a trip to the First Four in Dayton.


Player Bullets:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway is blossoming into a special player before our eyes. After being held scoreless in the first half, it was obvious that Hardaway was going to get more shots in the second. The only question was what he would make out of them. Hardaway finished the game with 20 points (all in the 2nd) on 6 of 13 (2-6 3pt) shooting with three assists. He scored in a myriad of ways and played with great emotion. While Lucas carried Michigan State, Hardaway matched his efforts and carried Michigan just a little bit further.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Smotrycz was phenomenal and gave Michigan an incredible boost off of the bench. He was one of the few Michigan players that finished well in transition and he had 14 points on 4 of 6 (1-2 3pt) shooting in just 21 minutes. Three steals and a block, as well as 5 for 5 at the free throw line, go a long ways toward making up for zero rebounds. You need a big performance from a role player at home and Smotrycz provided it.
  • Darius Morris: Morris was playing sick and it showed. He finished with 13 points on 3 of 11 shooting but did hand out six assists and grab five rebounds. Michigan State played way off of Morris, daring him to shoot, and he settled for a couple of silly shots but still made a number of big plays and rarely tried to do too much. Morris also did a great job of not only getting to the line but finishing at the stripe, connecting on 7 of 8 free throw attempts.
  • Zack Novak: Novak didn’t have a great day from the field, 1 of 6 (1-4 3pt) or even on the glass (3 DR) but he did make 5 of 7 free throws and hand out a pair of assists. Novak’s most important contribution to the game was on the defensive end of the court. He did a phenomenal job on Draymond Green. Novak had a hand directly in front of Green’s face every time he shot the ball — reminiscent of the pictures you see of Shane Battier contested Kobe Bryant’s jumpers — and was a primary reason that Green finished with just 7 points on 3 of 14 shooting.
  • Jordan Morgan: This game was not only very physical, but officiated very tightly. That meant Michigan was trying to deal with Morgan’s foul trouble all game. The freshman big man was still productive, scoring 10 points (5-6 fg) and grabbing six rebounds in 19 minutes of work.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu had a forgettable offensive night with 0 points on 0-4 shooting (with very questionable shot selection) and no assists to one turnover. However, he deserves credit for battling. Stu grabbed three boards along with a block and a steal but more importantly he used every ounce of energy he had to try to slow down Kalin Lucas. Yes, Lucas still scored 25 points but he had to take 19 shots to get there and also turned it over four times (with just two assists). Douglass isn’t the fastest or most athletic player but right now he’s Michigan’s most trusted perimeter defender.
  • Colton Christian: A big time tip out that led to a Vogrich three is certainly enough to make your presence felt in 2 minutes of playing time. It’s tough to make an imprint on a game when you are just thrown in the game for 2-3 minutes but Christian has made some great energy plays during the second half of this season, an encouraging sign for the future.
  • Matt Vogrich: Three points, five rebounds, and an assist in 20 minutes. Vogrich is starting to develop into a solid backcourt substitute. He continues to play with more energy and is every bit a threat to bury an open three. Still, his five rebounds were the most important aspect of his performance today.
  • Blake McLimans: I groaned when he fired up his jumpshot but just had to chuckle when it went down. His shot was very similar to Christian’s in East Lansing, just one of those plays that let you know it might be your day.
  • Kevin

    GREAT GAME! I have a feeling we’re tourney bound and I believe there will be a selection show at crisler a week from Sunday. I have to raise the question I’ve been thinking about for a while though. Does anybody see the tension between stu and darius? I sit close to the court at games and it has sort of been a trend throughout the season. The team has great chemistry overall. You can just sense some tension

    • grandchamp

      D-mo gets mad when Stu walks the ball up the court after a rebound instead of pushing it and getting it in D-Mo’s hands.

    • eschol54

      Interesting observation. I noticed Morris screaming at Stu near the end of the Minnesota game but have no idea what it was about.

      • Robert04′

        Great win.
        Kevin, I’ve been thinking the same thing. A lot of times Darius will call for the ball but Stu will take an extra dribble or two and either pass it to him later than Darius wants it or to a different player altogether. It seems like Stu may resent that Darius is the floor leader or is attempting to dispel the theory that he isn’t as adept at setting up teammates or generating assists.

        To the inevitable dissenters, watch their body language toward each other when we play Illinois.

        • billiam

          I don’t know how much basketball you played, but…are you kidding me? If you know there is a better player at fast breaking you let them have it. I’m sure Stu was once the bect player on his team, and wanted to have the ball on the break. That being so, he understands that D-Mo wants the ball on the break. He may “resent that Darius if the floor leader” but I seriously doubt it. I think the players are just getting after one another.

          (Note: haven’t really checked this out on video…but, come on! really?)

    • JimC

      Yeah they snipe at each other occasionally, so maybe there is a bit of competetion for leading the floor. Hopefully it’s just heat-of-the-moment type stuff that athletes do. I’ve noticed it in the past, but am not too worried.

      Mike Tisdale and the other goonies. They worry me more ;)

    • lavell99

      From what I see, Stu hesitates to get the ball into Darius from the end line late in games when teams are pressing us. That irritates me to no end. It’s gotta be maddening to Darius.

    • UMHoops Fan

      Some people just love drama, I guess. If only we had a season sweep of MSU, a game against ILL, and a likely tourney bid to discuss.

      • kevin

        I’m surprised no one has said that maybe they ”talk” to each other like that because Morris NEVER gets Stu the ball when he is open. When Stu scores it is on broken plays…nothing is ever run for him. Stu probably gets pissed cause Morris drives (obviously right) and never dishes to him. Morris probably gets pissed because Stu missed him on a chance he could have forced and drawn a foul. Oh well…I don’t think it is a big deal. Go Blue!!!

  • have no idea if HTML works here. hope so. [Ed: Changed it slightly. Post game players here, Beilein here, Izzo here. Even more video at]

  • sorry, guess not. :(

  • Haterade

    I honestly did not see this coming. I thought this team was good for 12-13 wins tops. And now here we are in March likely tourney bound. Crazy.

    • Chris in NC

      You can hand that to the coaching staff who really worked these players together into a well oiled, Spartan stomping basketball machine!!! Coach B is awesome!

  • Greyblue

    Very nice team victory. Smot showed up and Vogrich contributed, among others. Coach had the schemes to torment Sparty as I thought he would, and they accomplished the win in a very different way than at the Brez.

    As usual after a loss, Spartan Mag or whatever it is called, is casting aspersions, this time on Morris for an alleged post game incident in which they contend Lucas was trashed by Morris and was told to get the “expletive deleted” off our floor. However, Lucas seems to be taking it all in stride as reciprocal trash talk.

    They also disrespect the last Morris drive to score, conveniently forgetting the ton of threes they have rained late in games when they were ahead twenty or more.

    When Sparty gets embarrassed they often come up with something to deflect angst at the loss. Ever heard of sticks and stones, Sparty? The best team won with two sick players! Deal with it.

    Two many losses won’t be good for the TI’s mental health, He really gets down, and let’s it show.

    • Chris in NC

      I didn’t realize at the time that he was doing that layup as an f-you to them. I thought it was classy that he laid the ball in nicely rather than slam it in their face… I figured he was waiting for the foul and kept going until it happened and it never happened…

    • kevin

      100% agree, when i read that izzo quote a few posts down i was a little taken back. i was at the msu v. penn state game in lansing and seem to remember izzo getting roe almost killed trying to do a layup while draymond was trying to get his 10th assist for a triple double. they did the same thing, the only difference was that they were up double digits.

  • mat

    Vogrich – I’d almost given up on the kid – thought he’d sort of fade away once the ’11 and ’12 recruits arrived – but he’s really stepped up lately. He may always be a liability on defense, but if he can keep getting rebounds like he’s shown flashes of doing to go with the shooting he’ll have a nice career. 20 minutes today against MSU and he didn’t look overmatched.

    • Brian W

      I agree with you. Vogrich has had a decent sophomore year. He was content to stand in a corner waiting to shoot a three last year and didn’t do well on defense. While his defense isn’t perfect, he’s more active and aggressive this year. His rebounding and driving through the lane has improved, and he has hit some timely shots. Kudos to him.

      • Ben

        I agree and I feel he really isn’t a liability anymore, He will never be a great defender but he does ok out there. He is a great shooter and we just need to find ways to get him open more.

  • ks

    what i really liked about today’s game was that it was a true team effort. morgan starts out really strong and when he goes out with two fouls and smotrycz picks up the slack. christian and mclimans (!) go in for a couple minutes and make an impact. same with vogrich. great double teams and rotations on defense. hardaway struggling in the first half but really asserting himself in the 2nd. finding out morris and stu played under the weather…and on and on. looking forward to the top 5 plays – there will be a lot of plays to choose from…

  • Michman

    Nice to see Harvard won tonight as well. Michigan current rpi now is 53, and SoS is 19…

  • Kainkitizen

    You can see in the last youtube video by akarpo that Kalin does throw the ball in Darius’ face and they need to be separated during the handshaking. It shows Kalin being a poor sport about losing to arch rival. We meet again in the conference tournament championship we will beat them again and send them to the NIT.

    • Nick

      wow man….are you out of touch with reality?
      If state makes the BTT finals, they are in really easily… probably a 9 seed

  • Brian W

    Larry Nance Jr. had 19 points in his team’s 81-41 win tonight.

  • Kainkitizen
    • MichBall2010

      His name is Brandon actually and he’s only a sophomore. I dunno why they would just make stuff up haha.

  • SJWolv

    The last video is interesting, you can see all three parts of the Lucas/Morris exchange. Part 1: Morris barking after the layup, Part 2: Lucas throwing the ball at his face, Part 3: the handshake line incident. I love it, Lucas is a punk.

  • JD

    I didn’t remember that Lucas swung his elbow into LLP’s face last year but here it is:

  • JD

    If this is right, it looks like we’ll be playing a little before 3pm on Friday:

  • About that Blake jumper… man he was open!!

    Go Blue!

    • JD

      11 for 21 from 2 point range and 1 for 18 from 3 point range. Keep it close, Blake!

  • KRN

    Video up showing Lucas and Morris during the postgame handshake. Also, whoever posted the video for WXYZ sounds like another sparty whiner based on the video description.

    • billiam

      just double checking, but Morris was the guy in the grey sweater? That guy looks OLD. Notice the UM guys don’t even pull him off. He holds his own (composure). Roe had to pull Lucas off. Nice.

      • KRN

        The guy in the sweater was Jordan Dumars. It’s kind of tough to see in the video but Morris is the one behind Dumars.

  • sven

    Lunardi moved us out of a play in game into the Big Dance proper.

  • Dirtgrain

    Last season, it seemed that UM lost to MSU at the end of the season because MSU played a way more physical game, and the refs let them. Do you all feel the refs called a tighter game than last time? The stats show it that way.

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    Torrent of the game is up at

  • JimC

    Any links to Lucas’ intentional foul on Hardaway yesterday in the first half???

    From row 41, we saw pretty much zero of that (and of course it was not replayed for the crowd).

  • CJD

    I was out of town on business and looking to see if there is anyway to watch this game after the fact?

    I tried the big ten tracker but for some reason all it did was download a ton of crap on my computer which took some time to remove.

    • JimC

      Someone will probably load it on Youtube, like the first game, in the next few days.

  • CubFan

    I really enjoy watching UofM play this year, especially the second half of the season. They have gotten better and better throughout the year and the development of these young players has been fun to watch. Congrats to this young squad, especially UofD Jesuit’s own Jordan Morgan. Always been a fan of Jordan, and love seeing him playing so well, especially after all of the doubters while he was a senior in high school. Shows what hard work on the court, in the weightroom and being a student of the game (listening to coaches) can do for you. Oh, he’s a great student and young man to boot! Good luck to the Wolverines in the Big Ten tourney and beyond!

  • Mattski

    MSU Rivals decodes some of Izzo’s comments (pounds fist, says “Let’s get this rivalry going!”) Izzo also complains about Morris scoring at end of game (seriously, dude?) Claims Morris was unsportsmanlike in Lansing, too. Sour grapes-ish. Funny thing is that Lucas says it’s all in the rivalry, no big deal. (Read: player more mature than coach):

  • KAB

    So Lunardi has us as the sixth team in the feild. We better win that 4/5 game or it could be close…

  • wayman britt

    I like and respect MSU basketball program, but I find it comical that the Spartans are upset that Morris went for a lay up at the end and talked some trash.

    I guess they have ” limited” memory and don’t remember when they tried to pour it on to beat UM by 30 trashing talking all game and summer. It’s if through there history of beating UM the last 11 years they were saints. Get Real.

  • AG2

    BUBBLE ALERT: George Mason down 14 at halftime to Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA Tournament Semis. George Mason and Old Dominion (who plays Hofstra in the 2nd Semi later today) are locks, so if both lose there will be 3 CAA teams.

    • AG2

      I also wanted to mention that despite finishing 4th in the conference standings Virginia Commonwealth is hosting the tournament, so this is a de-facto home game.

      • Jeff

        In the Big Ten, the last place team gets homecourt advantage in the conference tournament :-).

    • Jeff

      In a typical year, there are two or three bids that disappear because of things like this. That and a few bubble teams making runs in conference tournaments makes the bubble shrink in a hurry. Happens every year.

  • KAB

    Jerry Palm has us as 11 seed in his latest bracket…

  • MJA

    Completely agree with the McLimans comments…

    My favorite line from the commentators: “When [McLimans] scores, it’s like finding money in the sofa.”

  • KAB

    We want PSU to beat Minny right?

    • Ryan

      YeP, that will move us to 4th in the big ten! The 4th best team in the 2nd best conference!

  • AG2

    I’m not sure, but we DEFINITELY want Old Dominion to beat Hofstra and VCU now. Otherwise that’s a stolen bid.

  • KAB

    I think if PSU wins then we get the 4 seed and not the 5???

  • peterklima

    Maybe the other two CAA teams shouldn’t get in if they lose the conference tourney?

    • Kevin

      If you want to tell the #23 and #27 RPI-ranked teams that they don’t deserve bids, be my guest. George Mason has a W over Harvard and Old Dominion. With a 26-6 record and a 20s RPI, they’re a lock. Same goes for ODU; they had consecutive wins over Clemson, Xavier and Richmond this year. That was all part of a 26-6 season.

  • KAB

    4 seed!!!

  • steve kim

    I don’t think this impacts us directly in anyway. I could be wrong. We are the 4th seed but were locked into the 4/5 game anyways. I hope msu plays iowa in the btt as I think they are better than indiana.

  • Ryan

    Should also be noted… Penn State moved to 51 in RPI…. so close to 2 more top 50 wins.

  • Brian W

    Sam Webb said this morning Drake Harris from Grand Rapids Christian was a visitor at the game yesterday. Sam called him “the best freshman in the state” and said that Drake had a good time yesterday.

    Might be worth noting that MSU recruit Kenny Kaminski suffered an Achilles’ injury recently and missed his team’s game yesterday. Doesn’t say how severe it is.

    • Sam

      I watched Drake Harris play two games in a tournament over Christmas break, and he struggled fairly bad. I know it is a very small sample size and he is still just a freshman, but I would be very cautious of labeling him the best freshman in the state already. He has put up some good numbers, but it is very hard to project three years down the line.

    • I’ve been looking for follow-ups on KK’s injury too and can’t find anything. He’s a 2012 recruit so he has plenty of time to recover before he suits up in G&W.

  • CJD

    Anyone have a saved file of the game to share?