East Lansing, MI—-Michigan State Spartans lead by legendary head coach Tom Izzo fighting for Big Ten Supremacy against the Michigan Wolverines looked to remain undefeated in big ten play.
The Wolverines lead by Head coach Juwan Howard have a tall task winning at the Breslin center where the Spartans are 6-1 on the season.
Michigan State in front of a sellout arena played inspired hard nose defense to set a physical brand of basketball against their in-state rivalry Wolverines. The Spartan’s forced Michigan into a low scoring first half, causing uncharacteristic turnovers leading to transition buckets on the other end of the court.
A.J. Hoggard and reserve Malik Hall poured in 15 points each and Michigan State (10-4, 2-1) held off Michigan (9-5, 3-0) down the stretch beating the Wolverines 59-53 on Saturday at Breslin Center.
Michigan cut the lead 42-28 with 8:59 left to get within 47-43 with 3:55 to go and 57-53 with 13 seconds remaining but never got any closer.
The suffocating Spartan’s defense held Michigan to 7/26 shooting (26.9 %) and ice cold 1/9 (11.1%) from the 3-point line, only allowing 18 first half points.
Big Ten preseason’s player of year candidate and Michigan’s leading scorer and rebounder Hunter Dickinson struggled against the Spartans interior defense and double teams holding the super-star to 4 points and 3 rebounds at the break.
MSU took a 27-18 lead going into the break, Senior Malik Hall led the way with 9 points and was the offensive spark plug for the Spartans.
In the second half, coach Izzo who is known for his on the ball man to man defense amped it up a notch extending pressure beyond the 3-point arch forcing the Wolverines to take difficult and highly contested shots.
The Spartans defense limit the Wolverines to one shot on the offensive end, displaying textbook defensive positioning. Michigan despite shooting an abysmal 30.4% late in the second still was in striking distance of 6 points on the road against MSU.
Michigan All-American candidate Hunter Dickinson and Freshman sensation Jett Howard begin working inside the paint making high degree of difficulty buckets down the stretch but it wasn’t enough.
Dickinson was the lead scorer for the Wolverines, he finished the game with 18 points and Howard chipped in 10.
Every fan in the Breslin Center was on their feet in a 5-point game with 1:52 minutes left. Michigan State’s senior Joey Hauser put up an acrobatic layup to push the lead back to 7 (51-44).
Spartans AJ Hoggard showed his athletic ability weaving in the paint knocked down a mid-range jump shoot with Wolverine Defenders draped all around him.
Only 23.6 seconds in the instate battle of Big Ten titans, Michigan State looks to ice the game from the free line.
“We don’t win without Malik” (Hall), Tom Izzo said. “I respect Michigan”
Michigan State hits the road for a pair of Big Ten Conference games, starting on Tuesday, Jan. 10, visiting Wisconsin (ESPN, 7 p.m.).