#11 Terrapins Fall to Michigan State

Ross Houston
January 14, 2018

With people questioning how the Spartans, who were flat out outplayed in Columbus, would respond to a lesser opponent in Rutgers, their first half showing didn't offer much clarity.

Embarrassing, sure, but also critical when it comes to competing for a Big Ten championship.

After teams like Duke and Villanova suffered losses in the past couple of weeks, Michigan State 16-2 (4-1) started to really stick out as the favorite to win the national championship.

MI routed the Spartans 86-57, its largest win in the rivalry since also beating 's first team by the same 29-point margin in 1996, in the last meeting. Michigan State plays a moderate 72.6 possessions per game, but Michigan is one of the slowest in the nation, running just 68.2.

That soul-searching will include plenty of work on playing ball-screen defense.

Rutgers pushed MSU to a tightly contested 10-point victory in Piscataway a month ago, and Steve Pikiell's team gave the Spartans all it could handle again tonight.

"I'm gonna push Miles, and I told him that after the game", Izzo said. I know Jackson gets three or four shot blocks a game [3.1], so he might get a few against us, but that won't stop me from continuing to attack. "We have a trainer, Alex Wong, who needs a shout-out for this one".

In other words, it was about being the tougher team.

"They're not Nick", Izzo said, "and we need Nick".

"We better get used to it", Frese said of Michigan State's aggression. Improbably, it's the Boilermakers who appear to be the league's best team at the moment, while the Spartans are just trying to avoid being overtaken by the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

The Spartans will have until Friday, when they host IN, to work on it.

"This is what rivalry games are all about", Izzo said.

Jackson, a former 4-star prospect, was expected to play a bigger role in 2017 after the Spartans lost several key players at the receiver position. It was a bit more disconcerting when they needed overtime to survive lowly Rutgers at home three nights later.

Michigan State: Hosts Michigan in the rivals' only scheduled matchup on Saturday. But he had just three points in that Michigan State loss, proving that as he goes, so does the team.

If Michigan can dominate the boards and keep the Spartans from succeeding in transition, they can keep the game close.

In the rematch at Breslin Center, Ward rarely came off the court.

Bridges had 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

"From Day 1, I loved the people at the university", he said. "We have not been playing within our system".

"I'm going to teach him how to be a little more of a jerk", Izzo said after MSU's win on Wednesday.

"They tried to make me feel a little better", he said. "They play tough. They play physical with a chip on their shoulder".

Miles Bridges' body language suggested he was frustrated with being held scoreless for 30-plus minutes in Michigan State's overtime win against Rutgers earlier this week.is publicly and privately saying he has to play more selfishly to create more shots for himself instead of passing so often to teammate.

"I was able to contribute when my number was called", Tillman said.

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