Don”t let the final score of the Michigan men”s basketball team”s 91-64 loss to No. 5 Michigan State last night fool you.

Paul Wong
As the Maize Rage and Bernard Robinson looked on, Andre Hutson and the Spartans bludgeoned Michigan at Crisler Arena for the third straight year, 91-64.<br><br>BRANDON SEDLOFF/Daily

It wasn”t that close.

Even though they only won by 27, the Spartans were ahead 29 points at the half, 56-27, following a 10-minute stretch where they outscored Michigan 30-9.

From the midpoint of the first half until there was 3:10 remaining, Michigan State held Michigan (3-5 Big Ten, 9-10 overall) scoreless, running off 24 unanswered points.

“It”s incredibly disappointing,” junior forward Chris Young said in the press conference after the game. “I can hardly show my face in here. I just want to go and hide under my bed.”

The Spartans (6-2, 17-2) outplayed the Wolverines in every aspect of the game in the first half. Michigan had just one assist to Michigan State”s 11 in the first 20 minutes. The Wolverines shot 6-for-28 from the field, while Michigan State went 18-for-27.

“We could not have played a better first half,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I am very proud of my guys, and I don”t give out compliments very often.”

While Michigan State blistered the Wolverines early in the game, knocking down its first six shots, Michigan struggled to make its open looks.

“We got down early and people tried to bring us back by themselves, me included,” Michigan forward LaVell Blanchard said. “It”s frustrating because we”ve got to do what the coaches say and we”re not doing that right now.”

Most of the credit for Michigan”s poor shooting in the first half should go to a Michigan State defense that consistently forced the Wolverines to settle for less-than-ideal shots as the shot clock wound down.

Time after time, the Michigan guards found themselves unable to work the ball inside and were forced to throw up a desperation shot before the shot clock expired.

“Our young guards didn”t respond to certain situations very well, and consequently, the shot clock was down a lot for us,” Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. “We couldn”t get the shots that we wanted.”

The Spartans, who lead the nation in rebounding margin, dominated the glass against Michigan. Throughout the game, Michigan State earned second and third chances, outrebounding the Wolverines at their own end 13 to 11.

“Forty-two to 24 on the boards,” said Young of the final rebounding margin. “That”s just ridiculous.”

In the second half, Michigan State jumped on the Wolverines again, stretching the lead out to 44 points with 14 minutes to play.

But Izzo pulled his starters at that point, and Michigan was able to close the gap against the Michigan State reserves.

Blanchard led all scorers with 27 points. But 15 of those points came in the final 13 minutes of a game that had long been decided.

The sophomore, who shot just 2-of-10 in the first half, outscored his longtime rival Jason Richardson by 11 but made it clear after the game what was really important.

“He won,” Blanchard said. “That”s all that matters.”

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