The lead changes 21 times – 14 times in the second half – and it featured big performances on either side and an eventual overtime.
There, in the extra frame the Spartans have seen too many times this year, MSU shut out the Wolverines and won 86-76.
”We went into overtime and I think our focus level and our intensity level, we turned it up about 10 notches,” senior Branden Dawson said.
In the extra frame, it was all Spartans – and a lot of Matt Costello. The junior forward had four points, three rebounds and a block in the extra frame as he ran out to swat a Zak Irvin 3-point attempt due to a defensive miscommunication.
He said the burst in the overtime was due to “playing more free and not thinking.”
It looked like the game would be wrapped up in regulation when Michigan State went on a late 9-0 run to take a 66-61 lead.
Branden Dawson got the run started with a layup on an assist from Travis Trice, then a thunderous dunk by Dawson on an alley-oop from Denzel Valentine tie the game 61-61. Trice buried a short jumper then found Bryn Forbes in the corner for a 3 with 1:24 to go to give MSU a five-point lead.
But the Wolverines came right back as Spike Albrecht – who had 18 points – knocked down a deep 3 with 42 seconds left.
Valentine had a chance to put the game away, but missed the front end of his free throws. Michigan’s Max Bielfeldt pulled down the rebound, then topped in a missed Albrecht layup at the other end to tie it 66-66 with 20 seconds to go.
Trice missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation as he had a chance to win it.
“I wanted til the end because I was like we are either going to win this game or we are going to go to overtime,” Trice said. “I wasn’t going to give them a chance at all. Wish I had hit it.”
On the final possession, Izzo opted to not call a timeout – not his usual decision.
”If anybody ever questions me about why I call timeouts at the end, you saw a good season why,” he said.
The Wolverines were without starting guards Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert due to injury, but had a big game from Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, who matched Albrecht’s 18 points. But it was a struggle late for the Wolverines to get the ball in the basket, with just five points – Albrecht’s 3 and Bielfeldt’s tip-in – over the final stretch of regulation.
Early on, it was the Spartans struggled to put score as the MSU failed to capitalize on foul trouble for the Wolverines. MSU shot just 9 of 31 from the field in the first half and went 6 for 24 to open the game.
It was all Valentine and Dawson in that stretch, as the pair combined to go 6 of 13 from the field, while the rest of the team was 0 for 11.
”I wasn’t real pleased with the way we played,” Izzo said. “I was pleased that we got a win. I was pleased by the way we shot it in the second half and executed a little better.”
Forbes finally got the rest of the team on the board when he a hit a 3-pointer with 2:37 left in the first half.
Valentine had 14 of his game-high 25 points in the first half. Dawson posted his second straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds on his birthday.
“It was great,” he said. “I mentioned last year we lost on my birthday in New York, so that wasn’t a good feeling. So it’s definitely exciting.”
The Spartans improved to 6-3 in Big Ten play with the win.
“It keeps us in the hunt,” Trice said. “If we lose today, we are on the outside looking in. Right now, we are kinda in that pack with everyone else.”