When the Michigan Wolverines pushed #1 Illinois to the limit Tuesday night, they did it with excellent inside-out balance. Saturday against the Michigan State Spartans, the inside part of that equation was non-existent. Dion Harris did all he could to keep his undermanned team in the game, but got little help from his teammates in the process. His 22 points led all scorers, but other Wolverine had more than seven. Courtney Sims and Chris Hunter, who combined for 25 points and nine rebounds versus Illinois, only mustered four points and three rebounds on 2/11 shooting.
"We really didn't get many opportunities inside,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said afterward. They did a nice job of clogging. The ones we did get we didn't complete and didn't finish and that certainly hurts because you're not going to get a lot of them anyway. When we don't do that, we don't have that balance where we get some production on the interior it really hurts. I thought Dion (Harris) did everything he could from the perimeter spot and was our main scorer in the game, but he certainly needed some help."
The Spartans opened the contest with four close range baskets, including three dunks, to take an 8-2 lead at the 11:39 mark. They increased their lead to as many as 11 points in the first half, (thanks in large part to 10 from Shannon Brown) before heading into the halftime locker room up 30-20.
In the second half, Michigan State senior Alan Anderson scored 14 of his team high 16 points and helped the visitors push their advantage to 18. The Wolverines mounted a late 9-0 run, keyed by five from Dion Harris, to make the score 54-46 with 2:55 left, but the Maize and Blue would get no closer. Six more points from Anderson on a 10-0 run helped the Spartans cruise to the 64-49 victory.
Dion Harris turned in his second straight strong effort, which was the only silver lining in Saturday’s loss. “He has really stepped forward for our program and our team right now,” Amaker said. “That's been the bright spot for us to stay afloat and stay moving. We certainly aren't winning games right now, but certainly I think it has given us an opportunity because of his play. He's very inspired and our kids feed off of him. If he's playing well, at least it gives life to other players."
Michigan will look to end its eight game skid versus the Wednesday night versus the Wisconsin Badgers. The game is set to tip at 8 PM CST.