Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

No. 4/4 Michigan State Hosts Michigan on Saturday

No. 4/4 Michigan State Hosts Michigan on Saturday

The matchup to watch for is who guards Wagner for the Spartans. "... As long as we come out there and play our basketball and play as hard as we can, we can win some games".

Wagner, who was jeered by the fans before it was clear MI was going to win, celebrated the victory by shouting with joy and bouncing around the court.

"He talked it", Izzo said.

The Buckeyes and the Scarlet Knights held the Spartans to shooting 39 percent and 41 percent overall, respectively, both marks well below MSU's season average of just more than 50 percent.

The Scarlet Knights gave the Spartans all they could handle on Wednesday night, pushing the nation's No. 4-ranked team to overtime on the road before falling, 76-72, in a contest that was even closer than last month's 10-point loss to State at the RAC.

"We have to do some soul-searching", Izzo acknowledged.

As a whole, the team shot 27 percent from three and turned the ball over 18 times.

"Our guards could not get over the screens", Izzo said.

Matched up one-on-one beyond the 3-point arc in the second half, the Michigan junior dribbled behind his back to the left and into the lane for a layup while sending the Michigan State sophomore tumbling to the floor in his wake. He did assist on two buckets and pull down four rebounds.

The Terrapins' defense was lax from the start and Michigan State took advantage. I like the Wolverines down the line, but I look at this as a "wrong place, wrong time" kind of game for them. Nick Ward's inability to defend Wagner kept him out for large stretches of the game.

"Obviously we're disappointed for Blair", head coach Brenda Frese said in a release earlier in the day. "They played harder and played tougher". Bridges was more aggressive and looking to score in the half, adding two triples and a couple free throws to his night, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. "Wagner played really good, made all of his shots - he hasn't been doing that". So once the Spartans got going again, they were able to pad their lead back up to 50-43 with 6:23 to go.

But Michigan State's 3-point defense will be tested by a Michigan team that has hit 174 deep balls this year, more than any other team in the Big Ten. "You can't just hone in on one of them, you have to play well against all of them". "But he's a real good player and they have a lot of weapons".

"We better get used to it", Frese said of Michigan State's aggression. The Scarlet Knights held them to 41.2 on Wednesday (and 38.6 percent on December 5 in Piscataway) and also bested the Spartans, 40-36, in rebounding - no small feat considering the Spartans also led the country in rebounding margin entering the night.

Michigan State will have the home crowd behind it on Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center, where the Spartans are undefeated this season.

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