It seemed a forgone conclusion that the Michigan Wolverines would be blown off the floor when they traveled to East Lansing last night. The recent events with Daniel Horton accompanied by the ongoing absence of last season's leading scorer Lester Abram had most around the state taking bets on just how many points the Spartans would win by. That said, things did not look so bleak for the visitors at the game's onset.
Michigan avoided an early knock out blow by coming out of the gates very fast. Two quick lay-ups from Dion Harris followed by a Ronald Coleman three gave the Wolverines an early 7-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, though, things began to unravel.
The full court pressure seemed to really bother the Wolverines, causing them to commit a number of turnovers. That allowed Tom Izzo's squad to turn the tables. The Spartans held Michigan scoreless for almost six minutes while scoring twelve to take a five-point lead at the 10:46 mark.
The Maize and Blue finally ended the run when Chris Hunter converted a low post jumper over the outstretched arm of a Spartan defender. The 6-11 junior gave the Wolverines a much-needed boost with 10 points in his first game action in over two weeks.
Courtney Sims cut the lead back to one with a lay-up underneath, but the Spartans continued to fend the Wolverines off. A Chris Hill jumper followed by a free throw from Kelvin Torbert gave the home team a little breathing room. Michigan again threatened minutes later when Ronald Coleman nailed his second three pointer of the game to cut the lead back to one (19-18) with 3:23 left in the half, but the Spartans were there with an answer yet again. A 7-0 run for the Green and White, including five straight from Maurice Ager, pushed the lead out to eight.
Sims kept Michigan within striking distance by scoring four points in the last 1:42, but a buzzer beating lay-up by Ager sent the Spartans into the locker room with a 28-22 advantage.
The shorthanded Wolverines were pleased with their first half performance, but the same could not be said for the Spartans. "We were horrible," Tom Izzo said at halftime. Particularly upsetting for him were his team's turnovers. That all changed when Michigan State came back out on the floor.
The Spartans opened the second half with eight unanswered points to take a 14-point advantage at the 17:50 mark. From there they never looked back. Their full court pressure riddled the Wolverines ineffective, forcing them into even more turnovers (23 for the game). Michigan State went up by as many as 18 points before the Wolverines chopped it back down in the waning moments of the contest. When the buzzer sounded the Spartans had earned a 64-53 victory.
After the game Amaker pointed to his team's inability to take of the ball as the key to the loss. "It was the difference," Amaker said of the turnovers. "We weren't able to handle the full-court pressure that they put on us throughout the evening. I thought the difference too was the start of the second half. I thought they came out of the blocks and put us on our heels. The rebounding differential and certainly the turnover differential were two of the biggest stats for us. I was really proud of Ashtyn Bell and Dani Wohl for their gallant effort and what they gave us. There are a lot of things we need to work on, but there were some really positive things and our kids competed all the way to the end."
On the game Dion Harris and Courtney Sims led the Wolverines with 12 points apiece, while Maurice Ager led the Spartans with 18. For more on the game click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes.
Michigan will hit the road again on Sunday to try and end their three game losing streak against the Purdue Boilermakers. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 PM.