The Michigan and Michigan State rivalry is one that has had plenty of intense moments. But the rivalry was set aside on Saturday night before the game as the entire state of Michigan came together.
Before the game, MSU coach Tom Izzo shared his thoughts about the Spartans as their season continues.
“Even if we get better, the three people who died will not come back. … That’s the guilty part of playing a game like this. You feel like you’re making the game bigger than what just happened. I promise those families, the game is not bigger than what happened.”
With all that has happened to Michigan State, the Spartans came out in the first half focused and determined. The upper classman were huge as Malik Hall went 5-for-8 from the field off the bench with 12 points. Joey Hauser came out aggressive, scoring 10 points. The bench outscored the Wolverines 18-3, but the Michigan guards Dug McDaniel and Kobe Bufkin kept Michigan close. McDaniel, who was held scoreless when Michigan went to East Lansing, went 5-for-6 from the field with 11 points in the first half.
Between the two teams, there were eight lead changes as the Spartans took a three point lead at the half, 36-33.
Michigan got two big back-to-back buckets from Jett Howard to tie the game at 46. Unfortunately, after the second bucket to tie the game, Howard landed on Howser’s foot and had to leave the game. After the Spartans took the lead, Michigan once again had an answer, as Joey Baker’s block on Hauser led to a Will Tschetter layup to tie the game at 50 again.
Michigan State would go on to make 5 of their next 6 from the field, and Michigan would then counter with a 6-0 run. Tarris Reed Jr. had a big and one bucket to then tie it once again at 63 a piece. Reed followed that with a layup, and then Hunter Dickinson gave Michigan a 67-65 lead with a pair of free throws.
Tom Izzo would use a timeout at the 4:50 mark to try to get his squad refocused, with the Spartans not making a field goal in about four minutes. Joey Hauser finally ended the drought with a layup to knot it at 67.
Mady Sissoko would foul out with just under 3 minutes remaining on a Reed Jr. and Hauser would play the 5. The veteran Tyson Walker would stick a big three pointer to give tie it again at 72, but Kobe Bufkin would then answer would a three of his own. A Hunter Dickinson would give Michigan their biggest lead of the game at 78-72 with a dagger three. Walker would miss a step back three pointer and that would all but do it. Michigan would finish off the 84-72 victory in a great game between the rivals
Doug McDaniel would finish with a career high of 18 points and Tarris Reed Jr. was clutch down the stretch with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Dickinson had 14 and Bufkin had 17 points.
For Michigan State, it was a two-minute scoring drought to close this one out that would lead them to drop this one. Joey Hauser played exceptionally well with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Malik Hall came off the bench and supplied 14 points. Tyson Walker had 11 points, but struggled down the home stretch. A.J. Hoggard finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Despite the loss, this was an escape of reality for Michigan State fans and a chance for rivals to come together. A really classy job by Michigan to capture that it’s more than basketball and a rivalry.
Michigan State will take on No. 14 ranked Indiana at home on Tuesday at 9pm. It will no doubt be one of the most emotional games ever played at the Breslin Center. Students at MSU will return to classes on Monday and the Spartan community will continue to be strong.