When Chris Hunter, Michigan’s 6-foot-11 center, stepped behind
the 3-point line and buried a triple, it looked like it was going
to be the Wolverines’ night.

But Hunter’s trifecta, which put Michigan up 52-40 with under 12
minutes left, marked the beginning of the end for the Wolverines
last night. Archrival Michigan State (11-3 Big Ten, 16-9 overall)
answered Hunter’s three with a 17-5 run that tied the contest at
57.

Seconds later, the Spartans took their first lead since an early
8-6 cushion, and the shell-shocked Wolverines (6-7, 15-9) never
recovered, dropping a heartbreaker, 72-69.

“I thought it was an outstanding game – a game that was a
gut-wrenching loss for us,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “Our
kids are very disappointed.”

After Hunter’s 3-pointer, the Spartans clawed back into the game
on the shoulders of guard Kelvin Torbert. The junior hit 12 of his
18 points over the next six minutes, including two 3-pointers.
Guard Shannon Brown chipped in during the run with his only field
goal of the game, a wide-open 3-pointer.

Michigan State’s comeback culminated when center Paul Davis, who
finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, slammed in a missed
shot to knot the game at 57.

The Spartans took the lead for good at the 3:24 mark of the
second half as guard Alan Anderson curled around a screen for an
uncontested layup.

With Michigan still down two with less than 45 seconds left, the
Spartans’ Chris Hill put the nail in the coffin, draining a very
tough 3-pointer over Michigan center Courtney Sims for a 68-63
lead.

“That Hill 3-pointer over big Courtney was tough,” Michigan
guard Bernard Robinson said. “They made some tough plays – the
shots in the second half were going in for them and not necessarily
going in for us.”

Sims and forward Bernard Robinson had been the catalysts during
the first half, as the Wolverines took a 34-26 lead to the locker
room.

Robinson continued his recent string of good play, notching 10
points and four assists in the first 20 minutes en route to 15
points, five rebounds and six dishes for the game. Meanwhile Sims
outplayed All-Big Ten candidate Paul Davis, ending the first half
with 11 points and eight boards. The Spartans double-teamed Sims in
the second half, but the freshman still finished with a career-high
19 points to go along with nine rebounds.

Michigan had two chances to extend the lead further in the
second half, but guards Daniel Horton and Dion Harris each missed a
3-pointer at the start of Michigan State’s critical run.

For the Spartans, Hill led the way with 19 points and five
rebounds, while Anderson also finished in double digits with 11
points.

Michigan will attempt to keep its slim NCAA Tournament hopes
alive when it hosts Ohio State at noon on Sunday.

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