Men's Basketball

Freshman center Colin Castleton scored 11 points and broke into the rotation against Nebraska on Thursday.

Last Thursday in Minneapolis, freshman forward Colin Castleton stood in a cramped hallway outside the visiting locker room as reporters attempted to swarm Jordan Poole. Only Poole wouldn’t let them, forcing each reporter to ask Castleton a question before they could talk to him.

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.

Jon Teske scored in double digits against Nebraska.

Michigan scored its most points since Dec. 8. It shot 56 percent from the field and 55 percent from three. It recorded 19 assists on its 30 made baskets. Brazdeikis, Livers, junior center Jon Teske and freshman forward Colin Castleton all scored in double-figures.

It was the Wolverines’ most dominant performance in weeks, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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.”

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.