Michigan fell into a black hole at the end of its gauntlet of tough Big Ten games, getting destroyed at Michigan State, 75-52. The Wolverines had no answers all night long for the more physical, aggressive Spartans.
Michigan kept it close throughout the opening minutes, unlike earlier efforts at Ohio State and Indiana. Big threes early by sophomore Trey Burke and freshman Nik Stauskas offset the inside work of the Spartans and a long ball from Gary Harris.
Redshirt junior Jordan Morgan came off the bench to sub in for freshman starter Mitch McGary less than four minutes into the game. A second three by Harris gave the Spartans an 18-12 advantage with 12:32 remaining in the first half.
Michigan State drew a number of open looks through the first 10 minutes, while muscling the Wolverines with some strong inside play. Meanwhile, the Wolverines discovered the meaning of "play on" at the offensive end, with MSU manhandling cutters and drivers.
McGary's turnover to Branden Dawson turned into a coast-to-coast dunk, igniting the crowd and giving MSU a 24-15 advantage with just over 8:30 to play in the first half. Derrick Nix followed with a tip-in bucket over Morgan's back, pushing the lead to its biggest of the half, 26-15, going into a timeout with 6:13 remaining in the half.
Yet another Harris three-pointer and a layup by Nix pushed the margin to 14, 31-17, with 4:36 remaining. Matt Costello's banked-in jumper fueled the first-half rout to 35-19, with just under three minutes to play in the half.
Burke nailed a three-pointer to pull the Wolverines within 11, 35-24, but then fouled MSU's Keith Appling on a three, leaving the court with two fouls. The Spartans cruised into halftime with a 38-24 edge, putting the Wolverines into yet another huge hole on the road.
The Wolverines finished the half hitting just 3 of 11 three-pointers, getting 10 points from Burke and 14 from the rest of the roster combined. MSU shot 53.3 percent from the field, out-rebounding U-M, 19-12, and getting 10 points from Nix to go along with Harris' three triples.
Burke nailed a three-pointer in the opening two minutes of the second half, pulling the Wolverines within 11. But he then got tangled up with Appling, drawing his third foul and leaving the floor a minute and a half into the final 20.
A no-call with Stauskas getting knocked to the floor on a point-blank shot led to a short Appling jumper, putting the Spartans up, 48-29, and sending the Breslin Center into frenzy. U-M head coach John Beilein called timeout with 16:16 remaining, and MSU in full celebration mode.
A Denzel Valentine three with just over 12 minutes to play pushed the margin to 21, 57-36. Moments later, Stauskas hit a three to end a huge Michigan drought, the Wolverines still trailing, 62-39 with 9:51 remaining.
The Spartans just kept pulling away, a baseline jumper by Adreian Payne pushing the margin to 30, 69-39, with just under seven minutes remaining. The Wolverines never mounted any serious challenge in the second half, throttled on offense and overrun on the defensive end.
As the moments ticked away, it was just a matter of playing out the string and enduring the taunts from a celebratory Michigan State crowd. A late Spike Albrecht three cut the margin under 30, and his driving layup followed.
But it was much too little, too late, the Spartans winning in a walkover, 75-52.