Game 19: Michigan at Michigan State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 80, Michigan State 75-31
Dustin Johnston

Michigan 80, Michigan State 75. Photo Gallery. Beilein Presser. Player Reactions. Izzo Presser. Box score.

Michigan’s win in East Lansing on Saturday night was its fifth in its last seven tries against the Spartans. The victory was its third in a row over a top ten opponent, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1987. The Wolverines have reeled off nine straight victories and, most importantly, control the Big Ten.

Michigan State had the crowd, it had the lead and controlled the game for 30 minutes. The Spartans were imposing their will and pushing Michigan all over the court, but could never stretch their lead to double digits. The Wolverines hung in with a rope-a-dope effort that lasted until late in the second half when they finally made their run.

Trailing by as many as eight points in the second half, Michigan battled back to tie the game at 60-60 with four minutes to play. Then the Wolverines stole the game with two plays – both keyed by Jon Horford blocks.

First, Caris LeVert pushed the ball on the break and flipped it to a trailing Nik Stauskas. Three points. Seconds later, Derrick Walton leaked out and LeVert found him streaking down the floor. Catch. Layup. And one. In less than 60 seconds, Michigan had a six point lead that it would never relinquish.

Gary Harris was the best player on the floor, but his 27 points and impressive defensive effort weren’t enough. Nik Stauskas had to battle for every touch let alone basket, but he still managed 19 points on 12 shots. Derrick Walton played his best game as a Wolverine, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while Caris LeVert also added an important 17 points and eight rebounds.


Michigan’s offense, admittedly boosted by 16 free throw attempts in the final two minutes, continues to post ridiculous numbers. The Wolverines amassed 1.28 points per possession – Michigan State’s worst defensive performance since 2011 – and scored 1.45 points per trip in the second half while hanging 50 points on the Spartans.

Michigan did it with threes, connecting on 11-of-19 (58%) long range efforts. Entering the game making over 60% of its twos in Big Ten games, the Wolverines were just 11-of-31 (35%) on 2-point attempts. Michigan State’s defense was designed to take away the lane – something it accomplished very well – but Michigan just made a ridiculous number of threes. In the second half, the Wolverines finally got to the free throw line, attempting 27 free throws to just 23 field goal attempts.

The Wolverines also won the battle on both backboards. Michigan rebounded 37% of its missed shots and converted 11 offensive rebounds into 15 second chance points. Michigan State rebounded just 29% of its misses and turned 10 offensive rebounds into just four points.

Beyond rebounding, Michigan’s defense continued to struggle. The Spartans scored a blistering 1.20 points per possession and shot 50% on twos and 42% on threes. Michigan had no answer for Gary Harris, who scored 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and struggled to defend Michigan State’s transition game. The Spartans scored 15 points off Michigan turnovers and exploited the Wolverines repeatedly in unsettled situations off long misses as well.

Michigan just keeps getting better. Michigan State was shorthanded, but the Wolverines won on the road at the Breslin Center despite Glenn Robinson III playing an underwhelming game. The most encouraging trend? Derrick Walton is growing up. Next up is a bit of extended rest before a home date with Purdue on Thursday night.

Michigan 80, Michigan State 75-5
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets

  • Derrick Walton: Welcome to the rivalry, Derrick. Walton played his best game as a Wolverine and he was completely composed down the stretch. We’ve criticized Walton for missing some critical free throws late in games, but he was nearly perfect on Saturday night, finishing 9-of-10 at the stripe. Walton played an all around great game, hitting the roll man once on the pick and roll in the second half and knocking down two triples on two attempts.
  • Nik Stauskas: When you finish with 19 points on 7-of-12 (5-6 3pt) shooting and the guy chasing you around all night is being lauded for his defense, you are pretty good. Stauskas hit some huge shots and was ridiculous from beyond the arc. He’s also up to No. 9 in the Ken Pomeroy Player of the Year Leaderboard. He’s reaching Trey Burke territory where I’m running out of things to say about his offensive abilities.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert is Michigan’s guy when nothing else works and he continues to do a good job of making something out of nothing. Teams are going to focus on removing Stauskas for the game so LeVert is going to have opportunities. He knocked down 3-of-6 triples, and was finally able to get to the free throw line in the second half. He played 39 minutes, chasing Harris for the majority of those minutes, and although Harris got his points I don’t know who could have done better on Michigan’s roster.
  • Jon Horford: Horford’s extended shift after Morgan was called for his fourth foul (a tech) with seven minutes left was the stuff that you are supposed to see from a veteran. His two blocks of Keith Appling late triggered the two baskets that gave Michigan a six point lead and he did a great job of helping at the rim.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was plagued by foul trouble and only grabbed one defensive rebound, but he did haul in four offensive boards and finished with 4 points in 19 minutes. Morgan battled inside and I thought he did a very good job of hedging on the pick and roll, even if Michigan did have some breakdowns there.
  • Glenn Robinson III: When Russell Byrd blocks you driving to to the rim, things aren’t going well. Robinson just never found a groove, finishing with 9 points on 2-of-8 shooting, 1 rebound and three turnovers in 26 minutes. In the first half, he was sidelined with foul trouble. Michigan made an effort to get him the ball in the second, but he could never get going.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht was tough to play in this game because of Keith Appling’s quickness. He was 0-2 from the floor with 3 points, 1 assist and a turnover in 10 minutes.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin knocked down a huge triple – late in the first half when Michigan was up against the rope – but he had his fair share of freshman moments. A traveling call (that looked close) and 1-of-5 shooting marred his debut at the Breslin Center.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt deserves major credit for stepping into the game late in the first half and being ready to contribute. He played physically inside and made me look stupid for tweeting that Michigan State could go on a run if he checked in.
  • Sorry the recap was so late guy. Had a whale of a time trying to get everything else together with server issues. Go Blue!

    • neushasa

      Thanks for all this stuff Dylan! I still remember when we went to Breslin back in 2008 only to watch us get killed…we’ve certainly come a hell of a long way!

  • DingoBlue

    Go Blue! I definitely give Bielfeldt some major credit for coming ready to play. Some huge rebounds that we definitely needed.

  • gobluemd16

    This is all i’ve got guys

    • DingoBlue

      I’ll take it!

  • kam

    FIRST I wanna say Dylan, thank you for admitting you were proven wrong. I hate when people are wrong and never mention it..although most were probably wrong about max(myself included) u see most people with decent to major followings never admit mistakes. They deny it or lie because they think it will make them look bad. I wish more people would do what u did. .. and secondly GO BLUE!!! I thought winning 1-3 would be great.. but we went 3-0! JB is an amazing coach. Can’t believe a few years ago people wanted him fired.. Huge step in the right direction for Walton… Nik is a stud offensively.. Caris played well. 8 rebounds is great.. Irvin seems to take tough shots.. and gustavo mentioned he has a horrible handle. Hopefully he can improve on that! Glenn just has been off. The bigs made plays when needed. I’m happy..what a great win.

  • Gordon
  • Wayman Britt

    Very nice win for UM. Even if MSU was down two players, winning at Breslin always requires you beat the eight other men on the court besides your teammates.

    Walton definitely had a good night, but I think Caris was the key to victory. His defense is getting much better and he can get to the basket anytime he wants.

    • kam

      I agree.. I thought he played really good defense on Harris.. Harris is just an elite player who was on fire.. nothing u could do.

  • Adam

    What a great game! Anyone know what Beilein was arguing so strongly with the refs about? I saw him pointing to his nose a bit but I missed the explanation, if there was one.

    • Dr_ZC

      Yes. Was mad at the refs for their slow reaction. They called spike’s time out 5 minutes later :)

    • ChathaM

      Beilein was pointing at one of the officials when he told Boroski “He bumped me”, and touched his nose. I’m guessing there was contact between that official and Beilein. Shortly later, one of the officials came to Beilein and said something that calmed him right down.

  • Chris De Sana

    Huge win and nice write up.

    Walton is proving me wrong which is a good thing but it does need to be noted his better play has come by way of handling the ball less on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest positive is how has reacted to the physical play of the big ten and his end of game composure.

    Nik continues to impress especially his ball handling, fewer high dribbles this game and even more important fewer high risk passes in the paint. I still think we need to run more double screens to get him open looks as he seems to work harder game by game to get a shot off.

    Caris had one his best all around games. He is also doing a better job of keeping the ball low in traffic as well as fewer high risk passes in the paint. The only negative in this game was the one time he had a clear path to the rim and tried to get cute and create contact leading to a miss.

    Horford and Morgan again were very solid on both ends of the court, lets all hope they can keep it up.

    GR3 just simply drives me nuts at times. He had all kinds of match-up advantages in this game yet never called for the ball.

    Spikes minutes were forgettable other than the slow time out sequence.

    Irvin is going to be a great player and love the fact he is a fearless shooter. I am looking for him to have a couple more huge games but the major improvement will come in his Soph season much like Caris.

  • Chezaroo

    Fifth win in seven games against Sparty, that is amazing to me. Wasn’t that long ago that Mateen and the boys were running it up to 50 on us. Stauskas has just labeled himself public enemy #1 in East Lansing from here on out, but he’s probably played his last game there anyways. That crowd is ravenous. Loved seeing JBs fire, and the harmless little skirmish that resulted in techs. Passion and desire always play well with me.

    • Cory

      I think Stauskas is back next year. This draft is too deep.

      • kam

        The draft isn’t deep at all… Its top heavy.. top 10 then its really average.. They have been talking about NIK playing his way into the top 20 if keeps this up

        • Indiana_Matt

          Draft express has him at 16th now!

    • Fresh

      love that cleaves and i’m assuming some others from his era were there and had to watch that………hilarious

  • gobluemd16

    There were so many throughout the game, but I just watched the last minute of the game again on and I cannot figure out how the fouls on JMo with about 32 sec left and Walton with 10 seconds left could possibly be fouls. What could the refs have been looking at? There is literally nothing that would warrant a foul on either. It makes me so angry because if we didn’t knock down almost every free throw, they have a chance to win the game. It just isnt fair

  • kam

    The difference between JB and hoke in terms of coaching is MASSIVE. JB has done an amazing job. Everyone thought we were done when Mitch went down

    • Wayman Britt

      Kam – this is so true. Look how Beilein develops his players, they get better every game and every year they are in the program. I have yet to see this from the football coaches. Beilein also makes in game adjustments, haven’t seen much of that from football yet either, but maybe things will change will the new OC.

    • robpollard

      To be fair, things were looking pretty grim for Beilein at U of M about halfway thru his 4th year. We can’t forget we were 1-6 in the B1G, and it looked like we weren’t going to even make the tourney (let alone complete for titles) for the 3rd time in 4 year.

      Then Stu & co make some clutch plays to unexpectedly beat MSU at Breslin, and then it was upwards from there (B1G title in 5th year; natl runner-up in 6th year, and this year has been quite impressive).

      I don’t have as much faith in Hoke, b/c he doesn’t have Beilein’s history or rep, but who knows – perhaps with this new OC, some hard work and a little luck, he’ll replicate Beilein’s path and by year 5, UM football will be winning titles and be nationally relevant again.

  • Josh

    Bielfeldt came up with a couple HUGE rebounds.

  • Mattski

    MSU seniors will graduate with a losing record against us.

  • Champswest

    Like Dylan, I had also ragged on Walton for his late game missed free throws. He stepped up big time last night. As he continues to develop and become more of a scoring threat, it will give us a much needed additional option.
    Despite the tremendous defense by Harris, Nik still exceeded his scoring average (without the aid of any free throws). I guess if an average defender would have been guarding him, Stauskas would have scored 30.

  • ChathaM

    I don’t get the negative reaction to the officiating in that game. I felt that Appling travelled prior to his baseline drive in the 2nd half, and I didn’t see a travel on Irvin that was called. Aside from that, it was called well.

    That was the best I’ve seen Caris play, He was under control throughout the game. Defensively, he was very disciplined in staying connected to Harris no matter what action MSU was running. The week-to-week development that players regularly show under this coaching staff is incredible. A lot of credit goes to the kids as well, but the fact that this always seems to happen under this staff is no happy accident.

  • catwomanrx

    I was at Breslin, it did seem as if the refs were favoring MSU, especially in the first half. We’d barely touch someone, and get called. They’d mug our shooter and no calls.
    Thankfully, these kids were able to overcome that in the second half and pull out a win. A huge win! I know these kids had to be tired with 3 big games in one week.