Michigan isn’t accustomed to getting off to good starts when they take the floor in East Lansing, but they did just that Tuesday night at the Breslin Center. Two early three-pointers by Dion Harris helped the Wolverines jump out to an early 8-5 lead. Drew Neitzel got the ball rolling for the Spartans with a triple of his own and later gave his club a 9-8 lead when he converted a lay-up at the 14:33 mark.
Michigan responded with a 6-2 run, keyed by four points from Brent Petway, to take its biggest lead of the game (16-11), but that advantage was short lived. Neitzel scored nine of his game high 14 first-half points down the stretch on a trio of three-pointers. One of those triples came with just ten seconds left on the clock to send the Spartans to the locker room with a 24-23 lead.
The two teams battled to a stalemate coming out of break, and the score was knotted at 29 after four minutes of play. That’s when MSU went on its first big run of the game. Spartan freshman Raymar Morgan fueled a 7-0 run with an and-one to give Tom Izzo’s club a 36-29 lead with 11:06 to go. The Wolverines fought back with five straight points, including a Dion Harris three, to cut the deficit back to two points, but that is as close as they would get.
Raymar Morgan got loose on the inside to score seven of his 18 points in the final eight minutes and Neitzel added nine more, including six free throws, to propel the Spartans to the 59-44 victory.
After the game, Michigan headman Tommy Amaker pointed to his squad’s porous defense and untimely turnovers late in the second half as the reasons why the game got away from the Wolverines.
"Well, they did damage on the glass and I thought that we self-destructed with taking care of the basketball,” Amaker said. “I thought both teams were fighting and scratching and clawing; getting shot clock violations on both ends of the floor. But certainly we needed to value the ball and get quality shots at times when we needed it. Not being able to generate much on the interior and getting to the foul line just four times was certainly not the formula we need to have coming in here. We certainly felt that Neitzel was going to be very difficult to guard and obviously he carried them in the first half. I thought Morgan was an outstanding player this evening. I like to give him some credit but I thought we broke down in recognition and getting loose balls. He got offensive rebounds and I just thought that we broke down on some of our assignments that gave him opportunities to score."
On the game Neitzel led all scorers with 21 points and five assists. Dion Harris led the way for the Wolverines with 13 points and five rebounds.
Michigan will look to bounce back Saturday when they take on the 21st ranked Indiana Hoosiers at Crisler Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 PM EST.