Michigan uses big second half to take first place in Big Ten over rival Michigan State
With time winding down in the first half, Caris LeVert launched a 3-pointer from the corner and drained it as the buzzer sounded. As soon as he released it, LeVert turned and darted to the Michigan locker room. He knew it was good, cutting the halftime lead 36-34.
LeVert scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half to kept Michigan afloat through the first half, but in the second half Nik Stauskas broke out of a scoring slump, scoring 21 of his game-high 25 after halftime. The Michigan offense did what it wanted to do against the Michigan State defense in the last 20 minutes, outscoring the Spartans 45-34 in the second half en route to a huge 79-70 win at home on Sunday afternoon.
Michigan moves in to first place in the Big Ten standings, only a half a game against of Michigan State. However, the Wolverines have now taken both games this season from its in-state rival.
In his previous five games, Stauskas was scoring just 10.2 points per game, more than six points below his season average. Michigan had split its last two games entering Sunday, with Stauskas scoring 26 points of 8-of-20 shooting in combined matchups with Ohio State and Wisconsin. Against Sparty, he was 9-of-13 for his 25 points, the most points he’s scored since Jan. 22 in a win over Iowa.
The rest of the way, U-M faces four teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Michigan State still has games remaining against No. 15 Iowa and No. 24 Ohio State.
Michigan State is still dealing with injuries, most notably Keith Appling, although he’s been in the lineup for the past three games. He’s taken only five shots in those three contests, not scoring his first bucket until 1:30 remaining in the game on Sunday afternoon.
With Appling still plagued by his wrist, the Michigan State offense committed 13 turnovers to Michigan’s three. Luckily for the Spartans, they have six days off before Saturday’s game against Illinois.
Michigan hits the road to face Purdue on Wednesday.