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Takeaways from Michigan’s road loss to Michigan State

Another second half collapse does Michigan in.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

People always love to say you can throw out the record books for rivalry games, and while the Michigan Wolverines got off to a solid start, the wheels came off in the second half and Michigan collapsed in familiar fashion, losing to the Michigan State Spartans, 81-62.

After starting the season ranked in the AP Top-25, the Spartans enter this game just above .500. They looked like world beaters in a blowout win over Baylor (ranked No. 6 at the time) in early December. They’ve been so-so in Big Ten play so far, but they are still projected to be the frisky, 6-8 seed that nobody wants to face in the NCAA tournament thanks to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, who picked up his 700th career win in this one.

Here are some takeaways from a blowout loss in East Lansing.

Yet another bad start to the second half

As well as the Wolverines played to start this one, a 16-1 run by the Spartans early into the second half washed away all that momentum they built up. They found themselves firmly in control to being down seven in just under five minutes of action.

The Spartans turned up the tempo in the game, and a combination of Michigan’s lackluster defense rearing its ugly head and a drop-off in shooting from the first half gave the Wolverines a double-digit deficit.

As Robbie Hummel pointed out on the broadcast, this felt very similar to Michigan’s loss to Iowa last weekend. After a solid first half, that run put the Wolverines in a huge hole that was insurmountable to climb out of with how badly Michigan played on both ends in the second half.

Second-half collapses have started to become the norm for a Michigan team that only won one game in January. Not sure what’s happening in the locker room at the half, but the Wolverines have consistently gotten outdueled in second halves all season long.

Yet another scoring drought

A big reason why these second-half collapses keep happening is that Michigan’s offense keeps stalling out at the worst possible times.

Terrance Williams II made a layup with 13:06 left in the game, and the Wolverines didn’t have another made field goal until Llewellyn made a three with 6:55 left.

The Wolverines went more than six game minutes without a made field goal, and while they only got outscored 13-5 in that stretch, that was the difference in this one. It’s absolutely pathetic execution, but that hasn’t exactly been surprising this year. This team simply doesn’t have enough firepower to create offense consistently, especially without Dug McDaniel.

Scoreless droughts, second-half collapses and an inability to get stops have become commonplace for the Wolverines. It’s a recipe for disaster, no matter how well you shoot in the first half.

A pretty impressive first half

The Wolverines looked really comfortable to start this one out, leading for the majority of the first half after making 12 of their first 15 shots and 61 percent of their shots in the first half. Even with Nkamhoua sitting for a while with two fouls, Michigan played confidently, moved the ball well, got points in the paint, and made their open looks.

Michigan dictated the pace of this game for the first half, and came out on fire, which is much needed in a rivalry game. They’ve been struggling to get open looks consistently, especially without Dug McDaniel, but the Wolverines were physical and did a good job creating good looks for themselves.

The Wolverines came out with a fire we haven’t seen much this season, but the big MSU run killed all the momentum Michigan built up.

This team can’t defend anybody

I feel like I’ve written it a thousand times this season, but the Wolverines’ inability to get stops consistently was their downfall.

As good as Michigan’s offense was in that first half, it couldn’t get the lead up to more than a few possessions because it couldn’t put together more than a few stops in a row — all to a Michigan State team that struggles scoring points in the half-court at that.

That defense really fell apart in the second half, with the Spartans making 13 of their first 17 shots in the second half and making 60 percent of their shots in the half. It’s more late rotations, it’s more open threes, and the body language from the Wolverines in that second half was sad to see. This is a defeated basketball team, and hope dwindles with each one of these ho-hum performances.

A great game for Jaelin Llewellyn

Despite the result, Jaelin Llewellyn had a solid showing in this rivalry game.

He led the Wolverines with 12 points in the first half, including all three of his three-point attempts. He finished with 18 points, a new high for him since transferring to Michigan, to go along with three rebounds.

While he did turn the ball over four times, Llewellyn’s play in these road games have been one of the few bright spots for this team. He played like the crafty, veteran guard he is, and his solid play kept this blowout from being even uglier.

Up next

The Michigan Wolverines are back in action this weekend, as they head back home to host Steve Pikiell and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. That game is slated for 4 p.m. EST on Big Ten Network.