Wolverines stumble in second half, fall to MSU
Written by Matt Pargoff   

Battling for control of first place in the conference on Sunday, the matchup between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State lived up the hype, but provided some surprises in how things played out. In particular, the Wolverines’ normally stout defense struggled to control MSU, despite key injuries on the Spartans’ side. It was Michigan’s offensive decline in the second half though that ultimately marked the turning point in the 77-70 loss.

Less than five minutes after the break, a three-point play by Jordan Poole and a drive and dunk from Ignas Brazdeikis appeared to give the Wolverines all the momentum. That marked Michigan’s largest lead of the game at six points, but it also marked the beginning of an offensive decline.

The Wolverines went the next five minutes without scoring, making only a single field goal over a 10-minute stretch.

Still only trailing by seven points with five minutes remaining, Michigan tried to shoot its way back into contention, but missed on three straight from long-range. The Wolverines went 5-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, but missed their first 10 three pointers in the second half.

Michigan was led offensively by Zavier Simpson’s 19 points, while Brazdeikis scored 16 and Poole 15. Jon Teske registered a double-double, scoring 10 and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Falling to 24-4, U-M drops to second place in the conference standings behind Michigan State, but still in contention for the Big Ten crown with a second meeting against the in-state rival to close the regular season.

The Wolverines will return to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. eastern on ESPN, playing host to Nebraska for the final home game of the season.

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