No. 8 Spartans rout No. 4 Michigan
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)
Michigan State turned a highly anticipated, historic matchup into a showcase of what its proud program is capable of doing this season.
Gary Harris scored 17 points and Derrick Nix had 14 to help the eighth-ranked Spartans rout No. 4 Michigan 75-52 on Tuesday night in the rivalry's first matchup of top-10 teams.
''It was the perfect storm,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''We played about as well as we can.''
The Spartans (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) broke a first-place tie in the conference with No. 1 Indiana, which plays at Michigan State next Tuesday after the Spartans try to avoid a letdown Saturday night at Nebraska.
Michigan State's Keith Appling acknowledged he was a little bit surprised by the lopsided victory, the school's largest since beating Michigan by 27 in 2002, but shrugged off the significance of it with much of the regular season remaining.
''We just have to take it for what it is and prepare for our next game,'' Appling said.
The Wolverines (21-4, 8-4) have lost three of four, but the closely contested setbacks on the road against the Hoosiers and at Wisconsin were nothing like the latest when they were held to a season-low point total.
''It was an embarrassing loss,'' guard Trey Burke said.
Michigan State didn't trail once, led by as many as 16 points in the first half and enjoyed 30-point leads in the second. The game was so lopsided that both coaches filled the court with reserves during the final minutes.
''We probably played our best game in three years,'' Izzo said. ''And, they probably played one of their worst.''
Michigan coach John Beilein agreed.
''That was the worst we've played in a long, long time and credit Michigan State for that,'' he said.
Burke scored 18 points for the Wolverines and didn't get much help from his teammate offensively or defensively.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless until making a layup in the opening minute of the second half — after turning down Beilein's suggestion to work on his shot during halftime warmups — and didn't score again. Hardaway was 1 of 11 from the field and scored a season-low two points.
''They bullied us — point blank,'' he said. ''I've got nothing else to say.''
Glen Robinson III was 1 of 4 and scored two points to match his season low.
The Wolverines, who pride themselves on taking care of the basketball, had a season-high 16 turnovers and didn't have much success getting the ball away from the turnover-prone Spartans. Michigan made fewer than 40 percent of its shots and scored one fewer point than it did in a three-point loss at Ohio State.
''We couldn't get anywhere we wanted to and when we had open looks, we didn't hit anything,'' Beilein said. ''Somehow, we did not play with poise that we need to have to make shots.''
Everything went right for Michigan State, which had just eight turnovers and made 48-plus percent of its shots.
Harris scored from the outside, making five 3-pointers, and Nix had his way on the inside as part of a balanced offense.
Appling had 11 points and Branden Dawson scored 10 before leaving the court late in the game because Michigan's Mitch McGary hit him in the face inadvertently with his right arm..
Izzo said Dawson got hit in the nose and had a cut on his lip.
''I do think he's going to be OK,'' Izzo said.
Matt Costello scored a season-high eight points and fellow freshman Denzel Valentine had seven points to help Michigan State win its second straight in the series after losing three in a row following a run of dominance for the Spartans.
The highly anticipated game drew Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio, who mingled with Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, as they stood near ex-Wolverines football coach Lloyd Carr.
The white-clad fans in the stands were fired up before the game even started and they stayed enthusiastic, standing for much of the game, because the home team gave them plenty of reasons to cheer from start to finish.
''The crowd was just awesome,'' Izzo said. ''It kind of reminded me of back in the day.''
In the first matchup of 20-win teams in Division I basketball this season, Michigan State showed it might not be a rebuilding this season.
''I'm not sure we're as good as we played, but I'll take it,'' Izzo said. ''It was a big win for Michigan State.''