Michigan State played without starting big men Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson in Saturday night's game with Michigan, while U-M was without sophomore Mitch McGary. The Wolverines, though, pulled out a hard fought, 80-75 win.
Freshman point guard Derrick Walton started the scoring with a triple from the top on U-M's first possession, showing no signs of being intimidated in a hostile environment. Sophomore Nik Stauskas added one of the dribble for a quick 6-0 lead, and he followed it with a two-point jumper off the bounce to make it 8-2 at 17:30. A Glenn Robinson III hit a jumper to give the Wolverines an early eight-point edge, just the start Michigan needed.
MSU wasn't about to go quietly. A Gary Harris jumper and one of three free throws on a bad foul by Jordan Morgan made it 10-5 at 15:40, and steal and finish by Gary Harris cut it to three.
Stauskas continued to shoot well, but the Spartans turned up the intensity on defense after his three-pointer following an Albrecht offensive rebound. U-M had a tough time finding room to move or getting good looks, while MSU enjoyed a pilgrimage to the free throw line.
MSU grabbed a 21-16 lead with a 10-2 run of its own. The Wolverines went cold, missing badly on a number of jumpers, while Harris nailed a three and Kenny Kaminski finished in transition on a miss by LeVert. U-M continued to settle for plenty of one-on-one and jumpers with the clock winding down before LeVert finally tripled at 8:40 to make it 21-19. Robinson, though, picked up his second foul at 8:23 and had to go to the bench for the remainder of the half. Morgan picked up his second at the 8:00 mark.
LeVert cut a six point deficit in half with a triple, but MSU's Travis Trice answered it. U-M continued to struggle to get good looks before going inside to Jon Horford for a finish that made it 30-24, MSU at 4:40. Two more free throws for the Spartans, part of an 11-2 edge in attempts, made it an eight-point game before Irvin tripled and Walton finished a three-point play in transition to cut it to 32-30 at 2:37.
MSU, however, finished with a 4-0 run to take a 36-30 lead at the break. Horford was the third Wolverine to pick up two fouls.
Stauskas led Michigan with eight points, while LeVert and Walton Jr. added six each and Horford four. The Wolverines shot 40.7 percent to MSU's 52, but the difference came at the free throw line. The Spartans were eight of 11 to U-M's 2-for-3.
Mchiga started strong by going inside, getting a two from Glenn Robison III in the lane, two more on pentitation from Walton to Morgan. Staukas then tripled to match a Harris triple at 17:30, and it was a two-point game.
Morgan got called for his third foul on an apparent walk by Appling at 17:02 and had to go to the bench. The Wolverines kept it close, though, on a triple by Stauskas, free throws from LeVert and Morgan, who checked back in at 14;00, that made it 49-45 at 12:10.
MSU kept the pressure on by working the offensive glass. I twas 51-45 at the 10:20 mark, and 51-48 after another triple by Stauskas at 9:30, giving him 16 points. Two Albrecht free throws after an MSU hoop, on on which Albrecht called for timeout but a held ball was ruled, made it 53-50.
It started to get chippy at that point, with some pushing and shoving heading into the second to last media timeout. That led to a double technical on Morgan and Appling, Morgan's fourth personal.
LeVert knotted it at 53 on the ensuing out of bounds play with a long triple from the corner. A Horford putback of a missed LeVert free throw gave U-M the lead, 55-54, at 7:10. Robinson missed a wide open triple from the corner at 6:45 and was at only four points with 6:40 remaining. Alvin Ellis tripled on the other end to give State a two-point edge.
Walton's huge triple knotted it at 58 at 5:30.
LeVert missed a high glasser on the drive and didn't get the foul called on his next take. MSU then took a two-point lead at 4:15 on a goaltend before Robinson tied it at 60 with two free throws. Stauskas tripled in transition at 3:10 to give the Wolverines a 63-60 lead, and then Walton's circus finish and one in transition made it 66-60 at 2:29.
Walton made two free throws to match the Wolverines' biggest lead. Matt Costello's reverse lay-up at 1:45 cut it back to six - it was 70-64 at 53.4, and 72-64 after two Walton Jr. free throws, his 15th and 16th points of the game.
Robinson made one of two free throws to make it 77-70, but Harris hit a long triple with LeVert's hand right in his face to give the Spartans life, 77-73 at 17.4. LeVert finished it at the line for the final tally.
Stauskas finished with 19 points to lead Michigan. Walton Jr. enjoyed his best game in a U-M uniform with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, going 9-for-10 from the line, while LeVert added 17.