Men's Basketball

Sophomore guard Jordan Poole has shot just 32 percent from 3-point range in February.

Poole has all the tools to be a go-to scorer for one of the nation’s elite teams. The Wolverines don’t have another player willing to take — and often hit — the same shots Poole puts up. On the flip side, though, his playing style and role as a tough-shot maker inherently limit his consistency.

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.”

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis downplayed the rivalry with Michigan State ahead of Sunday's game.

A mere two days before his team’s biggest game of the season, John Beilein started talking about how he was glad Michigan had gotten back from Minnesota a little earlier than usual. Then he talked about the challenge of a short turnaround.

Junior center Jon Teske must stay on the floor against Michigan State Sunday.

On Friday afternoon, Teske stood near the door of Crisler Center’s media room explaining the intricacies of defending without fouling — a concept Michigan coach John Beilein has emphasized to him for three years now, and one the Spartans will undoubtedly test on Sunday.