Five Key Plays: Michigan State at Michigan


1) Tapout by Colton Christian to Matt Vogrich for the triple

Similar to the game in East Lansing, Colton Christian entered this game and managed to make a huge play in limited time. John Beilein said after the game that Colton has the ability and athleticism to make plays like this, he just needs to learn how to play on the perimeter. But this play is a good example of what he can do while he’s on the floor: anticipate where the ball is going to be and put himself in position to make an athletic play. Here, Evan Smotrycz elects to take the 3-pointer when he sees a little bit of daylight, and Colton starts out on the perimeter. The second the shot goes up, Colton crashes the glass and maneuvers his way around Draymond Green, but he still isn’t in great position to get to the ball. Even so, he makes a heck of a play by getting in the air and getting a hand on it. He also shows great awareness, making sure to tap the ball out to Matt Vogrich, who’s open at the top of the key. Vogrich receives the ball and makes a subtle pass fake that sends Durrell Summers scattering after nothing. The end up result is a wide open triple that Vogrich knocks down with ease.

2) Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 20 second-half point

Tim Hardaway Jr. is a scorer, pure and simple. He does more than just score, of course, but he just knows how to put the ball in the basket. After going scoreless in the first half, never finding a rhythm and catching a Kalin Lucas elbow to the face, Hardaway came on the court in the second half with fresh legs and a bad attitude. He started things off with slamming home an alley-oop after getting a great screen from Jordan Morgan and the Spartan defense falling asleep at the wheel. The rest of his makes weren’t nearly as pretty — some were downright ugly — but he did what a scorer does: put the ball in the basket by any means necessary. There was the shot where Tim was leaning into two Michigan State defenders, and even one where Keith Appling (State’s best on-ball defender) made a great play to strip the ball but Hardaway regained control and got the tough lay-in.  Beilein had him running around and through numerous screens and it was clear the plan was to get Tim the ball. He took advantage and ended the game with 20 points — all in the second half.

3) Jordan Morgan’s dunk

Not only was this play fun to watch, it was one of the most important Michigan baskets of the game. The situation: Michigan State has cut Michigan’s lead, which was as much as 12 at one point, down to two points with just under six minutes to go in the game. Michigan looked lost on offense. So they went back to what they have done so well this season: the pick-and-roll. Tim starts with the ball on the perimeter and gets a screen from Jordan. Derrick Nix attempts to help over the top but Morgan slips the screen and flashes to the basket. Hardaway finds him and Nix is left standing in the middle of nowhere while Morgan finishes with authority. While we were at media availability on Friday, the players were drilling this exact screen-and-roll while media were talking with Beilein, and it’s clear they have it down pat. From this point on, Michigan was able to build a semi-comfortable lead and hold on down the stretch.

4) Michigan State’s minute-long possession

Starting with about three minutes left in the game, Michigan State controlled the ball for a little over a full minute — without scoring. The Spartans missed four shots and rebounded all four of them, including a missed front end of a one-and-one by Delvon Roe. It seemed like they just weren’t going to let go of the ball until they scored, until Draymond Green dribbled the ball off his knee and turned it over. This stretch illustrated two areas of the game — Michigan’s rebounding, which wasn’t great and Michigan’s defense, which was. Michigan played tremendous defense throughout the game, and this possession is an excellent example. The help on Green in the post was great, the shots State took were guarded and when Green drove to the lane he ran into three Michigan players and they forced him to turn the ball over. Michigan State was down just six at this point and could have cut the lead to four or three on this possession, but the Wolverines didn’t let them.

5) Michigan State’s last offensive possession

Michigan State is down five and has a chance to pull the game to within two or three with under 20 seconds left — but Michigan’s defense holds. There were a few places during this possession where it looked like a foul could have been called on Michigan, but if Tom Izzo thinks he’s going to get any of those calls under a minute left at Crisler Arena, he’s crazy. I’m generally a fan of refs swallowing their whistles late (barring something outrageous) and I was a fan of it here. First Michigan forced Kalin Lucas into an awful baseline shot, then the Wolverines got a huge block on Durrell Summers after he grabbed the offensive rebound. Evan Smotrycz might have made one of the biggest plays of the game as he manages to grab the ball and throw the ball off of Durrell Summers’ knee and out of bounds.

6) Michigan’s last possession

This is one is a bonus. Darius Morris saunters through the Michigan State defense with a pair of behind the back dribbles to officially put the game on ice. It’s also worth noting that a layup in the final seconds of a five point game, when the opposition has already tried to steal the ball twice, is far from unsportsmanlike.

  • billiam

    Maybe I’m unsportsmanlike, but a dunk would have just made that last play awesome.

    • SubAlum_06

      I think a dunk would have been treading close to the borderline, the layup was just right.

      • Brad

        not even a dunk would have been unsportsmanlike…State was still trying to steal the ball, and it was only a 5 point game. In that situation, go for the throat…just like izzo having his team run a lob play to J Richardson back in the day (year escapes me) with a minute remaining and State up around 40 (yeah it was that bad)…now THAT is unsportsmanlike, but no gripe from me…

        • JB…

          Izzo leaves Draymond Green in to run up his stats for a triple double. Tommy is a classic case of loves to dish it out but can’t take it.

    • Beast1530

      Darius learned from the past game where he was content to burn the clock instead of going for a layup in a close game. This is why he went for a layup instead of burning the clock.

      • Champswest

        I was thinking of that same thing. In that previous game he had an uncontested layup and pulled it out and the other team fouled him. It could have cost us the game and Beilein explained to him when to let up and when not to. Plus, when you have all 5 Spartans pressing Morris trying to steal the ball, you aren’t throwing in the towel. For Sparty to complain about this play, is just, well, being Sparty.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Big Ten Bubble RPIs: ILL 41, MSU 47, PSU 51, Michigan 55

    • Ryan

      Ah I was just about to post that. I had just posted it on the post game.

    • SubAlum_06

      Crashing the dance has Michigan in as a 10 seed. Wacky things can still happen with the mid-majors but this I find this very encouraging.

    • Mith

      If PSU wins the 6-11 game will that help or hurt their RPI? I’m thinking it will actually hurt them. Which hurts us because I’d love for them to slide up a bit and get us those 2 Top-50’s.

  • Colby

    Any news on which recruits were there?

    • Ryan

      According to Scout, Jordan Hare was supposed to make it but did not. The only one that was there was a guy from 2014. He is supposed to be the best in the state that year. I believe the kid already holds a offer from IU.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Drake Harris

        • It’s great to see top recruits at games like these. I recall reading that Tim Hardaway was blown away by the place when we beat Duke in ’08.

          • Colby

            I was going to ask about Hare because there is a kid in the first row in the corner that looks like him. Thought there would be many recruits since the game was so big.

  • Alex

    I continue to love that last name and we we get another ASAP.

  • um basketball fan

    Anybody from MSU griping about that last layup needs to take a hard look in the mirror. Just because YOUR TEAM decided not to defend it does not mean that by default it was unsportsmanlike of us. Sorry, Sparty, we can’t plan our plays around you quitting when the going gets tough…..

    • jmblue

      And they DID play defense there!

  • Well said Joe, that layup was perfectly acceptable, especially considering that Darius gave one up late against Indiana and missed the front end. Nothing wrong with a late layup in a five point game when the other team is still trying to get the ball.

    • Mattski

      Yeah, they didn’t foul, they didn’t defend; it’s their body language that should offend Izzo.

  • Jeff

    Well, Indiana State knocked off Missouri State to get the Missouri Valley bid. Be interesting to see if Missouri State still gets in. My guess is no, but it wouldn’t shock me if they did.

  • SJWolv

    I was looking at the bracket and there is a hidden opening that only Luke Winn has talked about, UW-Milwaukee. All of the bracketologists have Butler in as an at-large but if they beat UW-Milwaukee in the Horizon title game that league is down to a one-bid league.

    • Jeff

      Good catch. If Butler wins that opens up one more bid.

  • ZRL

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jon Diebler miss a 3.

  • Mattski

    Huh. Interesting. I guess it IS possible for me to dislike OSU more than Wisconsin in hoops. And Gus Johnson slurping them. . . yuck. His act is getting a little old, too. Are all the brackets set for the B10 tourney? I like our chances against the Illini. But who might we play in subsequent rounds?

    • Kenny

      OSU or the winner of NW and MINN

  • Alex

    I’d love another shot at the Buckeyes. First thing’s first though with Illinois. Let’s get that win to end any speculation about Michigan’s chances to get in the Tourney.

  • JimC


    • Brad

      that may be incorrect…or I may be, but I thought PSU was 6 and State was 7?

      • Giddings

        Brad you’re correct… notice that on that page it basically implies that the seedings were as of last night (“the rest of the seeds are projected, we will update as the other games finish up”).

        (they also have us as the 5 seed, which we would have been if Minnesota beat PSU)

        • Dylan Burkhardt

          Posted the finalized brackets on the front page. Updated JimC’s link.

  • mich is boss says Hare isnt considering mich? is that true or not?

  • Kainkitizen

    Great Choices Dylan for top key plays. Fan Video’s are really starting to pop up on youtube from the game. We need to have this atmosphere for every home game next year. It was crazy good!

  • Kainkitizen

    Darius’s lay-in at the end was classy. A dunk would have been State’s way of showing class. We are so much more then that way. It show’s maturity and smarts.

  • mgocanada

    I hate to say it but only UM fans would seriously debate whether a dunk would be unsportsmanlike. We had every right to rub this sweep in Izzo’s likeably smug face. Fact is, Darius was in traffic and the layup was his only real option. Otherwise I have confidence he woulda stuffed it. Dunks are just high-percentage shots, man. We don’t get nearly enough of them, and stuffing balls into hoops to ice a game are the kind of morale-killers that can keep the opponent from climbing back via miracle plays, something we’ve struggled with all season. What year is it, 1950?

    More to the point, Tim Hardaway is hands-down better than Keith Appling, Ray McCallum, AND Trey Zeigler. Who would have thought?

  • EchoWhiskey

    I just watched the torrent and wow, those announcers were awful. Between “michigan needs this more than msu,” “glen rice,” and the talk of needing to shut down novak (?) I could barely watch it. They’ve got nothing on Doyle.