Down by one point with 1.5 seconds left in last night’s game at Crisler Arena, sophomore Stu Douglass was inbounding the ball directly in front of Michigan’s bench.


Harris speaks about coming back from his suspension and the last few seconds of the Wolverines’ loss to the Spartans.

He knew the play: option one was junior Manny Harris coming off a screen. If that wasn’t available, it was a jump ball — Douglass would lob the ball up near the basket and hope that a Wolverine would tip it in.

The referee blew the whistle, and the ball was in play. The Spartans switched on the screen for Harris, which meant it was time for the jump ball. Sims cut to the basket. Douglass threw a perfect pass. DeShawn Sims caught the ball above Spartan Tom Herzog.

And all of Crisler thought it was in. But it wasn’t. And Michigan lost to the Spartans, 57-56.

“It would have been a hell of a score,” Michigan coach John Beilein said after the game.

When the ball improbably rolled out of the basket, the game ended like so many of Michigan’s games have lately—the other team makes plays in clutch moments, and the Wolverines do not.

“The world feels like it’s crashing down,” Sims said about the moment the ball rolled out. “But you still have to maintain a certain amount of focus and move on to the next game.”

For the vast majority of the game, it was the fifth-ranked Spartans who were having trouble maintaining their focus. The first half was not one of Michigan State’s best, but it was one of Michigan’s best defensive halves of the season.

The Wolverines (3-5 Big Ten, 10-10 overall) forced 11 Spartan turnovers in the half and converted those into 15 points, which helped them to a 27-25 halftime lead.

Unfortunately for Michigan, the team was, as it has been so many times this year, ice-cold from 3-point land, hitting just 2-of-15 from beyond the arc.

The second half was much of the same for both teams. Michigan continued to play perhaps the best defense it was played all year and Michigan State (8-0, 18-3) kept giving up the ball, committing 18 turnovers for the game.

The Wolverines continued to brick their deep balls, all except for Sims, who nailed 3-of-5 3-pointers in the second half after attempting none in the first. He had a big hand in keeping Michigan in position to win while the Spartans made their run midway through the second half.

“I wasn’t finishing inside, and I know I’ve been working on my stroke,” Sims said. “So I knew my stroke was on and I just let it ride today and I was hitting every shot that I took.”

But it was the last 3-pointer he took, with 35 seconds remaining in the game and his team up by one, that will be remembered — an airball from the baseline.

After the miss, Michigan State called a timeout and went for the last shot. Spartan junior Kalin Lucas ended up with the ball and nailed a mid-range jumper with 3.5 seconds left.

That play led to Sims’s missed alley-oop, and Michigan to yet another loss to a top-25 team.

“Somehow we got to get positives out of this,” Beilein said. “It’s been a tough five games, but we’ll find positives out of this.”

After last night, Michigan sits in ninth place in the Big Ten. The Wolverines would most likely have to win the all of their remaining games on their Big Ten schedule and make a run in the Big Ten Tournament in order to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Despite the three-game losing streak, Beilein told his players to keep their heads up.

“You should not be discouraged by this, you should be encouraged by this,” Beilein said. “They’re a great team with a great coach … Don’t put your heads down.”

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