On a night where the rivalry between the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans mattered much less than normal, the competition on the court was just as fierce as ever. After trailing for a significant portion of the game, the Wolverines managed to stage a heroic comeback effort and run off the floor with a much-needed 84-72 victory.
Here’s how the game played out for Michigan:
For both teams, the mantra of the first half seemed to be that the best defense is a high-powered offense.
In a highly contested opening sequence, the Wolverines took an initial five-point lead, but the Spartans’ lights-out shooting quickly propelled them past Michigan — making six of their first eight shots to take a one-point lead headed into the first media timeout.
After an extended back-and-forth, the momentum seemed to swing firmly in the direction of Michigan State for much of the half’s remainder, with the Spartans powering out to a six-point lead at the 10-minute mark, followed by an eight-point lead headed into the final four minutes of play.
Both times, however, the Wolverines were able to stem the scoring rushes from getting out of hand, and in the final seconds of play managed to cut the lead to just three points headed into the locker room. Statistically, Dug McDaniel led the Wolverines scoring efforts at halftime, notching 11 points. Tarris Reed Jr meanwhile was Michigan’s top rebounder at the buzzer, finishing the half with six boards.
Despite the Wolverines outshooting Michigan State in the opening minutes, the Spartans did just enough to keep the lead at three headed into the first media timeout. While an unfortunate injury to Jett Howard coming out of the timeout looked to threaten an attempt at a comeback, the Wolverines were still able to tie the game at 50 at the 12-minute mark.
Despite an extended made shot streak from the Spartans, Michigan was able to keep it nip and tuck by matching them blow for blow. Michigan State was able to break the stalemate just before the 12th minute, after a missed free throw by Tarris Reed Jr gave way to a three pointer by Spartans forward Joey Hauser to take a six-point lead.
Just as soon as Michigan State found that six-point lead however, it was erased by a surging Wolverines offense. After going almost 25 minutes without a lead, Hunter Dickinson finally turned the tide with a pair of made free throws, sending the score to 67-65. Just like that, the story of the game flipped on its head — the Spartans doing everything in their power to keep the game tied, while the Wolverines easily swatting them away with a single make.
Ultimately, a block from Reed and subsequent three-point make from Dickinson was all that was needed to put the game away for good, as Michigan left their home floor with a 12-point victory. Statistically, Dug McDaniel finished as the Wolverines’ scoring leader in the contest with 18 points, while Tarris Reed Jr. finished as Michigan’s rebounding leader with 10 boards.
The Wolverines travel to Piscataway, New Jersey to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.