|Senior Derrick Nix played one of the best games of his career against rival Michigan|
There was a lot of hype going into tonight's contest as this was the first time in the storied Michigan/Michigan State rivalry where both teams were ranked in the AP Top 10. The #8 Spartans (21-4; 10-2 Big Ten) came into tonight having something to prove in arguably their toughest test of the year against arch rival #4 Michigan (21-4; 8-3 Big Ten). And they certainly did prove something, they proved they belong not only as one of the top teams in the toughest conference in the country, but as one of the top teams in the country. Going into the game Michigan State was a 2 point underdog at home but that wasn't the case when the final buzzer sounded as the Spartans dominated the Wolverines in every aspect of the game in a 75-52 final.
Freshman Gary Harris was sensational for the Spartans as he led Michigan State with 17 points, 4 boards along with 3 steals and assists. He was also money from beyond the arc, draining 5-9 three point field goals. Senior Derrick Nix played arguably the best game of his career in one of the biggest games of his career as he chipped in with 16 points, 5 boards and 3 assists. Keith Appling had also contributed with 11 points and a season-high 7 rebounds.
The Wolverines were led by none other than Naismith hopeful Trey Burke, as he continues to have a sensational year. He led the team with 18 points, 3 steals and 4 assists while chipping in 2 boards. Star guard Tim Hardaway Jr. did not show up in this game as he was held to only 2 points on 1-11 shooting and 0-5 from beyond the arc. You could contribute this to the Spartans stingy defense as they held Michigan to a season-low 52 points.
With many games left in the Big Ten season, don't count out Michigan just yet. Even though they are fourth in the conference, they have a favorable remaining schedule with their toughest games at home (against Michigan State on March 2 and against Indiana on March 10). Now for the Spartans, if they play like they did tonight for the remainder of their schedule, they will be tough to beat. They have to play #1 Indiana at home on February 19th and Wisconsin on March 7th, but have to travel to Ann Arbor on March 2nd. If Michigan State can win two of those three games, the Big Ten Title will be theirs. It will be interesting to see how each of these teams respond to this game. For the Wolverines, it is important for them to realize, even though it is tougher, that they still have a shot at the Big Ten title. And for the Spartans of Michigan State, not to let this win go to their heads and to keep playing good basketball down the stretch. Regardless of the results of the regular season, both of these teams will still be a posing threat come March.