EAST LANSING, Mich. – With Zak Irvin struggling and Moritz Wagner in foul trouble, Derrick Walton Jr. had to be Michigan’s primary scorer today against Michigan State.
For his effort, Walton finished with a game-high 24 points, on 4-of-12 shooting, making an astonishing 14-15 free throw attempts.
Yet, despite his scoring outburst, Michigan still lost at its rival Michigan State, 70-62, after arguably Walton Jr.’s best game in Big Ten play.
“I know this team looks at me as a leader,” Walton Jr. said. “And when I play and show the phase that it’s time to win. I think it follows suit. At the same time, (my teammates) give me courage to lead. It’s a two-way street; I just try to exude it by playing hard and smart.”
That was evident in the second half, with U-M trailing 32-28 at the half, Walton Jr. answered with back to back 3s to tie it quickly at 34-all.
“I just want to be aggressive,” Walton said of his back-to-back 3s to start the second half, adding: “I think the first shot I took of the game, I thought it was all net. I left it short and I missed one after that. I kind of settled.
“The second half I just wanted to attack and get the free-throw line, make plays and slow the game down.”
Next up, Michigan plays host to Ohio State this Saturday at 6 p.m.