Michigan 80 - Michigan State 75: Take What's Yours

Leon Halip

On a night when Michigan seemed to be just hanging around against all odds, the Wolverines seized control of the game late and came away with its third win over a top ten team in three games.

Things looked really good at first — and then they didn't.

Michigan jumped out to an early lead making its first four shots, but MSU took control of the game for the rest of the first half.  The complaints piled up early about officiating, and that is quite a shame because A) both teams got screwed at some points and B) outside of that, this was a ridiculously well played game.  Michigan looked hapless early, failing to sustain any offense as Michgian State blocked off the paint completely.

However, Michigan hung around thanks to a very good night shooting the ball from outside, and while Michigan struggled to get over the hump, it was also able to keep the Spartans from pulling away in a game that MSU should have put away early.

In the end, it was a Michigan run following what clearly looked like a foul on Nik Stauskas that defined the game.  The Wolverines were tied at 60 apiece with MSU with just over 3:30 remaining before a Horford block led to a Stauskas three the other way, and quickly afterward, another Horford block led to an outlet pass that Derrick Walton turned into an And-1 opportunity.  Michigan had staked claim to a lead it wouldn't relenquish.

Stauskas repeatedly came up huge for the Wolverines.  He hit five of his six shots from outside and had four assists, despite the defense that Gary Harris played on him all night.

However, the biggest Michigan player on the night was probably the one few expected to have a big game against MSU's impressive backcourt.  Derrick Walton hit Michigan's first shot, a tough pull up three, and was strong down the stretch.  His and-1 led to Michigan's big lead late and his cool hand at the line (9/10) kept that lead large enough for the Wolverines to walk away victorious.  Walton also managed five rebounds and four assists.

Michigan also got an impressive game from Caris LeVert, who asserted himself in the second half and helped Michigan hang around.  He led the team with eight rebounds and also shot the ball well, hitting 3/5 from 3pt and 6/7 from the line.

Jordan Morgan had just four points but made a few key plays and pitched in five rebounds.  Because of foul trouble, Jon Horford once again got an extended run at the five and scored six points on 3/3 shooting while adding four rebounds and three blocks.

For Michigan State, it was all Gary Harris, who despite being on the losing side looked every bit of the frontrunner for Big Ten player of the year, pouring in a game high 27 points with five rebounds, two assists, and three steals, and also dealing with a tough defensive assignment covering Stauskas.

So, after seven Big Ten games, Michigan is 7-0 and winners of nine straight after losing to #1 ranked Arizona in the final minutes.  The Wolverines have just beaten three top-10 teams in a row, with two of those wins coming in arguably the two toughest road venues in the Big Ten.

This is not where anyone expected Michigan to be at this point in the season, but against all odds, the Wolverines have continued to claw and fight.  They've been rewarded with sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, and a top-10 ranking can't be very far off.

Take what's yours, indeed.

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