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Men's Hoops Utilizes Big Second Half to Bury No. 3 Spartans

The University of Michigan men's basketball team (No. 21 AP, No. 25 ESPN/USA Today) used an 11-point second-half advantage to upset Michigan State (No. 3 AP, No. 3 ESPN/USA Today), 80-75, on Saturday night (Jan. 25) inside Breslin Center. Michigan has now won nine straight games, with the past three coming against top-10 ranked opponents.

The Wolverines trailed for most of the night, until sophomore Caris LeVert (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) hit a triple to tie the game at 53 with 7:45 remaining. They then took their first lead of the second half less than a minute later, when junior Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge) converted a put-back layup to make the score 55-54. The Spartans answered with a three and a free throw, but U-M immediately knotted the score back up at 58 when freshman Derrick Walton Jr. (Harper Woods, Mich./Chandler Park Academy) hit a three with 5:41 left in the game.
Coach Beilein
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U-M Players
• Stauskas audio | Walton audio

After the teams trading points, Keith Appling drove to the basket, but his shot was blocked by Horford and led to a triple from sophomore Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark's School [Mass.]) that put Michigan up by three. Horford blocked another attempt by Appling on the next possession, and it set up an old-fashioned three-point play for Walton in transition. This made the score 66-60 with 2:29 left and silenced the once-rowdy Breslin Center crowd.

The Spartans repeatedly fouled to extend the game, but U-M hit 14 of its 16 free throw attempts in the last two minutes to take the top spot in the Big Ten standings at 7-0.

Stauskas scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and connected on five of his six attempts from long distance. Walton also scored 19 points and went 9-of-10 from the line. LeVert dotted the stat sheet with 17 points and a team-best eight rebounds.

Derrick Walton Jr.

Michigan hit its first four shots of the game to go ahead 10-2 less than three minutes in. U-M controlled the lead until an Appling layup tied the game at 16 with 11:35 left in the half, and the Spartans went ahead 19-16 on a three on the next possession.

With 3:42 left in the first, MSU took a 32-24 advantage, but the Wolverines rscored six straight to come within two. Freshman Zak Irvin (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) drained a three, then Walton made an old-fashioned three-point play in transition.

Michigan State scored the final four points of the half and was up 36-30 going into the break.

U-M outscored the Spartans 50-39 in the second half and shot 11-of-19 (58 percent) from three, compared to MSU, which went 7-of-17 (41 percent) from downtown. In total, Michigan shot 22-of-50 (44 percent) from the field, while MSU was 26-of-55 (47 percent) for the game. The Wolverines' free throw shooting was vital, as they went 25-of-30 (83 percent) from the line to crush the Spartans' hope at a late comeback.

Gary Harris led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and Appling posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. MSU had eight steals and forced 11 Michigan turnovers, but U-M won the rebounding battle, 34-30, and had 15 second-chance points compared to State's four.

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