Michigan basketball implodes in the second half of an 83-67 defeat against Michigan State.
The referee patrolling the sideline turned and glanced at coach Juwan Howard with each subsequent layup for Michigan State basketball, and with each successful fast-break chance after faulty entry passes and clanged shots from Michigan basketball.
Time and again, Saturday afternoon, he cast a peek in Howard’s direction, anticipating the timeout signals he knew were on the way.
“You can’t burn them all at once,” Howard said.
He attempted to staunch the flow on many occasions as U-M lost its footing in a contest that was very close in the first half. However, the Wolverines disintegrated after the half, giving the ball over on passes into the post and missing open 3-pointers. Howard’s side scored three points in the opening eight minutes of the second half, leaving them down by an insurmountable margin.
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A back-and-forth fight had turned into a landslide, with cries of “N-I-T! N-I-T!” serenading Michigan as MSU cruised to an 83-67 victory against its archrival. The Spartans scored 28 points in transition as they physically and symbolically sprinted away from the Wolverines, winning the game by playing at a much slower pace. Howard’s squad was undone by poor outside shooting (3 of 19 from 3-point range) and a flurry of second-half turnovers, snapping a three-game winning run.
Center Hunter Dickinson led the Wolverines with 25 points and six rebounds. The only two players to reach double digits in scoring were fellow big man Moussa Diabate (11 points) and small forward Caleb Houstan (11 points).
Michigan shot 37.1 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers.
“I believe we weren’t locked in all the way defensively,” Dickinson said. And I believe that’s going to be a theme for us, you know? We don’t normally play a whole 20-minute half in the second half. Sometimes we merely have mental slips that allow the other side to win the game. Today, I believe, was an illustration of this, and it is something that we need to address before we do anything else. “
The first half resembled an informal two-on-two game, with Dickinson and Diabate scoring 23 of Michigan’s 35 points and Max Christie and Malik Hall scoring 25 of Michigan State’s 39. What bothered the Wolverines was how each combination created their offence and, more precisely, where it originated on the court.
Beyond the arc, the Spartans had solutions for Diabate’s reverse layups and baseline spins, as well as Dickinson’s methodical hook shots and free throws. Christie, coach Tom Izzo’s prized freshman, hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range in the first half. And Hall, who came off the bench to have an early impact on the game, missed both of his long-range efforts.
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The concept of exchanging 2-pointers for 3-pointers is not new for Michigan, which has struggled with inconsistent perimeter shooting for most of the season. Houstan entered Saturday’s game having hit 11 of his past 16 three-point attempts to break out of a shooting slump. His sole 3-point shot of the first half was blocked, so it did not qualify as an official attempt.
The rest of his teammates went 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, with the lone connection coming from guard Eli Brooks, who had his left middle finger bandaged.
“Some of them were excellent shots, and they didn’t go down,” Howard said.
Dickinson’s frustration bubbled over after he missed an open 3-pointer from the top of the key in the final seconds of the half. It’s a shot he sank repeatedly in the victory against Indiana, and it would have trimmed MSU’s advantage to one. Instead, the Spartans led at halftime, 39-35.
The attack stalled in the second half as Michigan relied too much on Dickinson and Diabate. Possession after possession seemed strained as the guards tossed the ball to the big guys and hoped for the best.
The Spartans started leaping the passing lanes as a result of the Spartans’ predictability. Two entry passes to Dickinson and one to Diabate resulted in turnovers, giving Michigan State chances in transition.
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“We weren’t able to deliver it on time and on target in the second half,” Howard said. “Part of the physicality I’m referring to with Michigan State is them making changes and getting into our players and having them feel them.”
The roars got louder with each mistake by the Wolverines, who turned the ball over eight times in the second half to fuel MSU’s red-hot 59.3 percent shooting. Jaden Akins plunging to the floor for the sort of 50-50 ball the Spartans usually seemed to get provoked one of the biggest ovations.
With the ball in his hands, Akins sent it to point guard Tyson Walker for a hit-ahead pass to Brown. The lead and the loudness at Breslin Center were both out of control after a thundering dunk.
“We didn’t have much energy,” Howard said. “That cannot happen on the road or anywhere else. that easy. “
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