Men's Basketball

Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers recorded a double-double in his first start of the season.

As it turned out, Beilein didn’t need to worry. Livers forced Palmer into tough shots and held him to seven points on 3-of-15 shooting, a performance so poor that Nebraska coach Tim Miles left him on the bench to start the second half.

And from when Matthews walked in wearing a walking boot Wednesday at practice — making it clear that Livers would be filling in — Livers’ hunger was apparent.

Charles Matthews was honored during the Wolverines' senior night.

It was that kind of night for the Michigan men’s basketball team (25-4 overall, 14-4 Big Ten), who got off to a quick start and never relented, winning 82-53 in the final home game of the season.

Shots were falling, no matter who was on the court.

Charles Matthews and the Michigan men's basketball team is looking to find their early-season dominance.

The evidence disagrees. Michigan’s offense averaged 73.2 points per game before the new year. In January, that figure dropped to 68.5. With one game to play in February, it sits at 67.1. On the other side of the ball, the Wolverines have gone from allowing just 57.9 points per game in January — the first month of Big Ten play — to 65.0 this month.

“We didn’t have that fat L that a November loss is, cause we were 19-0,” Livers said. “So we kinda had to learn the harder way, in our conference, which kinda sucks.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo adjusted his team's defensive strategy, stifling the Wolverines in a 77-70 win Sunday.

Previous Michigan-Michigan State matchups have been defined by Tom Izzo refusing to change his strategy. On Sunday, he made adjustments, and it won the Spartans the game.

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis was Michigan's second-leading scorer against Michigan State, shooting 5-11 from the field and 5-6 from the line for 16 points.

It was an about-face from the scene just 14 minutes earlier. Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis got the ball on a fast-break, drove to the hoop and flushed it in right over Michigan State’s Kenny Goins, putting the Wolverines up by six and bringing the crowd to its feet.

But after that, the Spartans called timeout. Michigan didn’t score for five minutes. And the complexion of the game changed completely, resulting in a 77-70 Spartan win.

Michigan State guard Cassius Winston scored 27 points against Michigan — more than his 22 total points in 2 games last season — as he and the Spartans handed Michigan its first home loss.

Even while remembering the celebratory final moments, he didn’t crack a smile. His comments alternated deflected praise with a focus on Indiana, Michigan State’s next opponent. When asked where this ranks among the biggest wins of his career, he merely said, “It’s up there” and re-emphasized the importance of winning a conference title.

But beneath it all, there was an air of relaxed satisfaction that can only come after dumping a proverbial monkey off one’s back.

Michigan State outscored Michigan, 25-9, from 15:42 to 0:50 in the second half.

Give the Spartans credit. Their defense was great. We just didn’t hit shots. We’ll bounce back. We’ll learn from this one.

This is what a rivalry game looks like on the losing side. The rivalry gets stripped away. If there’s any extra pain here, it’s not on display.

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When the buzzer sounded, No. 10 Michigan State (23-5 overall, 14-3 Big Ten) walked off Crisler Center’s court as the first visiting team to win on it since last January, beating No. 7 Michigan (24-4, 13-4), 77-70, to gain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

Students started lining up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to secure a spot in line, waiting to get their wristband granting them access to the Maize Rage.

By the time I left, around 5:30, the line had wrapped into the parking lot by Yost. A rough count gave me about 500 students that were there at that time. I would imagine the line kept growing after I went home.

What unites them all is more to the point.

Each of them chose to wake up at an ungodly hour, or neglect sleep altogether, to wait in the rain and cold to be as close as they possibly can to the Wolverines’ biggest game on Sunday. Every person I asked gave the same prediction — that Michigan would come out on top over their in-state rival.

John Beilein and Tom Izzo have cultivated a relationship beyond their rivalry.

The coaches knew of each other, but had never actually met. So Izzo, after spotting the Mountaineers’ coach across the gym, made his way over to Beilein and made his introductions.

“I just had (my son) out there at an AAU event,” Izzo told The Daily in November. “And John was there and he just sat with us and that’s where I learned he was just a regular guy.”