March 3, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke (3) shoots the ball against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan -- Wrap-up -- Wolverine's Warts Survive Spartan's Hogs

Posted at 7:00am — 3/4/2013

Michigan Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan — Wrap-up — Wolverine’s Warts Survive Spartan’s Hogs

What a head scratcher at Crisler Center, known to we oldsters as Crisler Arena. Michigan got outrebounded badly, very badly, 44-29; Michigan did not make one three-pointer, and Michigan missed several layups. Michigan was getting barn balled, but found a way to actually win against the bullyboy Spartans. Michigan State shot a mediocre 35% and committed 18 turnovers, many resulting in Wolverine points. The final, just for the record, was 58-57, Michigan’s way.

Michigan played much harder than at Penn State. Michigan played somewhat tougher than at Penn State. And most importantly, Michigan won a game that to many means so much more than losing to a Penn State team that got blown out on the road at Minnesota. Michigan again got dominated on the boards, and as the Spartan legs started to get a little tired, and the shots from 15-20 feet started missing, Michigan State went inside. The effort almost paid off.

March 3, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Caris LeVert (23) dunks the ball against the Michigan state spartans in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan had some moments that were almost comical, but nearly fatal in the effort to defeat the Spartans. McGary throwing the ball in blindly over his head under the Michigan basket was nearly beyond belief. Hardaway Junior’s strange ghost dribble and subsequent foul (just take the turnover). Guys shooting that had no real business shooting did not help either. Vogrich and Albrecht were not inserted to take shots the first time the ball touched their hands. Of course, some of the designated shooters took some pretty bad launches as well.

Michigan stood and let Michigan State score on a ridiculous three-point play on yet another offensive rebound fiasco off a missed foul shot near game’s end, essentially leading to a five-point swing.

And what is there to say about Caris LeVert? Caris clearly loves offense: end of comment. Michigan still has players lay on the floor after driving to the rim allowing the opposition to score transition baskets, even after a made shot. The first half transition defense could not stop Michigan State. The view here is that Michigan was too lazy getting back on defense and the lack of urgency probably cost the Wolverines eight or so points. There is sufficient speed and athleticism to get back in transition on the Wolverine squad.

But as the game wore on, and Burke asserted himself as the Maestro, Michigan played better and better. The switches on defense did not really improve that much from several errors in the first half, but the hands putting pressure on the ball caused problems for Michigan State. Fortunately for Michigan, as mentioned, some good shots did not fall.

Michigan State continued its two-year trend of being a little shaky at ball handling when pressure from quicker players is applied.

Michigan had the game in control with a ten-point lead and then Trey Burke missed a driving layup that could have maybe sealed the game. Michigan State transitioned to an easy basket. Michigan State then went to the inside with no hesitation or trepidation.

Burke’s steal and dunk for the lead will long be remembered, at least in Ann Arbor. After Michigan again failed to ice the game on free throws, Burke saved the bacon with a steal and that was indeed that as the age old saying goes.

Burke played magnificent. He played with more toughness and fed off the home-court energy of the highly entertained crowd. His defense was decent, his floor leadership better. Michigan actually mothballed the dribble-drive in favor of the pass for most of the game.

There could be many comments made about defensive switching out too high, too quick and again allowing open kicks for threes in the first half. Some players after the initial switch placed the feet into cement. But that is the extent of the defensive comments. Michigan attempted to play tough, probably as tough as possible while still remaining smart.

Michigan almost folded the lounge chair, but Burke and a combined little bit from everyone prevented the big fold. Michigan’s game may have been won when late in the first half the Wolverines shaved the half-time lead to a manageable three points, instead of seven or more points.

March 3, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) getting helped of the court in the first half against the Michigan State Spartans at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There are some asides to briefly mention. First, what is one to think about the WWE big elbow chop Stauskas took? This type of contact has happened in many recent Big Ten games and each time TV Teddy Valentine and crew keep saying play on boys. Second, it was almost, repeat, almost, humorous to see Izzo working TV Teddy hard going down the stretch. That indicated Izzo knew the Spartans were in trouble. Soon after, of course, the Spartans went to the torpedoes be dammed offense that almost made the difference, almost.

Michigan has all types of warts and is 24-5, with two losses being flat giveaways. This game may have been more important for the young team psyche than for the league standings. But Michigan needs to avoid that dreaded 4-5 match-up in the tournament. The only way to do that is win.

Next up are the Purdue Boilermakers on Wednesday. The Boilers knocked off Wisconsin at Madison, another statement to reinforce the mantra of not to take anything for granted in the Big Ten. Matt Painter will send out the Boilers highly energized at home. Michigan will need to put the big, physical game aside and get ready for an important standings game on Wednesday. There are no days off in this league.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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