Ann Arbor, MI — Daniel Horton scored 23 points to help the Wolverines upset the #11 ranked Michigan State (15-5, 3-3) by a score of 72-67. Michigan (14-3, 4-2) was trailing the whole first half but overcame the deficit in the second half with their tight defense against the talented Spartans.
“It was a game that slipped away,” Tom Izzo said. “Give them credit they deserved to win.”
The Wolverine fans rushed the court in the huge upset over Michigan State. With a win this weekend over Wisconsin, Michigan will take the lead in the Big Ten race. Michigan is hoping that this win will spring them into the Top 25. Michigan hasn’t been ranked since 1998, the last time they went to the NCAA tournament.
“This was a big game for our Big Ten championship hopes,” said Horton.
Michigan State failed to score for nearly seven minutes in the second half, the drought might have cost them the game. It was two different stories for the Spartans, in the first half everything went their way and their offense was clicking. Second half, different story.
The difference of the game was at the free-throw line. Michigan was 27-34 from the line while Michigan State only managed 10 attempts and was 6-10. Perhaps it was bad officiating but the Spartans inability to get to the line put them at a huge disadvantage.
“Officiating, I question,” Izzo said. “The 34-10 discrepancy really hurt us. It didn’t cost us the game or cause the turnovers.”
Maurice Ager led the Spartans with 18 points. Ager had a three-point attempt with two seconds remaining but missed it. Dion Harris made two free-throws to close out the game for the Wolverines.
Sophomore point guard Drew Neitzel scored 15 points and dished out six assists. Neitzel was 3-6 from behind the arc and had a fantastic first half for Michigan State. If Neitzel keeps improving the way he has this season the Spartans will be a very tough team in March.
Shannon Brown added 13 points and Paul Davis had 10. Davis became only the second player in Spartan history to score 1,500 points and grab 800 rebounds. Davis joins Greg Kelser in that category, although the senior didn’t have one of his best games.
Down the stretch Davis bobbled two passes in the post, and had a shot blocked with less than two minutes remaining. Michigan State needed their big man to get to the line for some easy points but it was a difficult night for the Spartans to get a call in the paint.
“It didn’t come down to those last few possessions, it was how we played in the second half,” Davis told the media after the game.
Down the stretch it was too much Horton for Michigan State. Horton hit two big three-pointers to help Michigan pull ahead and then the Wolverine defense was too much too handle for Michigan State. Horton was 3-5 from behind the arc and 8-8 at the free-throw line.
On the bright side for the Spartans, the tough part of their Big Ten schedule is over. They played five straight opponents ranked in the Top 25 and with this win Michigan will now make it six. Going 3-3 against those teams isn’t that bad of a record. Michigan State will now get a chance to regroup and start building back up for their run into March.