ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Branden Dawson led Michigan State to its first win at Michigan in five years – and if he keeps playing like this, there’s no telling how far the Spartans can go.
Dawson had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Michigan State finished a regular-season sweep of its biggest rival, beating the Wolverines 80-67 on Tuesday. It was the first victory in Ann Arbor for the Spartans since 2010, and they did it without much angst. Michigan never led.
”Coming into this game it was important for myself and Travis (Trice) being seniors, it was just coming out anticipating and getting this win tonight,” Dawson said. ”It was great for us, for this program.”
Trice had 22 points and seven assists. He and Dawson had never won at Crisler Center. The Spartans lost in Ann Arbor by one point in both 2012 and 2013.
”I think for those two guys, winning here was a big deal,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ”We’ve had a couple of very tough losses here.”
The Spartans (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) shot 62 percent from the field, and a barrage of early 3-pointers helped them to a 15-point halftime lead. Michigan (13-13, 6-8) has lost five in a row, its longest skid since dropping six straight in January of 2011.
The Wolverines are without injured guards Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, and although they played better offensively in the second half, they had no answer for the 6-foot-6 Dawson.
”That was a pretty high-level team,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. ”Dawson is at an elite level as far as scoring over people. He played as high up in Crisler as anybody’s ever played since I’ve been here. He really did some great things.”
Zak Irvin led Michigan with 16 points.
Michigan State has won five of six to boost its NCAA tournament resume. The unranked Spartans haven’t looked anything like Final Four contenders this season, but they’ve made unexpected postseason runs before under Izzo.
The Wolverines took Michigan State to overtime before losing in East Lansing earlier this month, but Michigan quickly fell way behind in this one. Trice made three early 3-pointers, helping the Spartans to a 21-8 lead, and the Wolverines never made a significant rally after that.
An alley-oop from Trice to Dawson made it 31-14, and Dawson pushed the lead to 19 with a layup moments later. Toward the end of the first half, Michigan’s Spike Albrecht tried an alley-oop pass of his own, but it sailed past Aubrey Dawkins and out of bounds.
It was 38-23 at the half. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored Michigan’s first 10 points of the second, but the Wolverines couldn’t stop Michigan State for any significant period of time. It was 55-45 when Michigan State’s Gavin Schilling scored and drew a foul with 10:08 remaining. He missed the free throw, but the Spartans came up with the rebound, and Schilling scored another basket to push the lead to 14.
Michigan State: At one point, the Spartans were 22 of 26 on 2-point shots. They finished 25 of 32 from inside the arc. … Dawson went 10 of 12 from the field.
Michigan: New Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh was seated courtside, only a couple feet from Beilein.
ON THE BOARDS
Michigan scored 44 points in the second half but allowed 42. After halftime, the Spartans went 15 of 23 from the floor and had six offensive rebounds.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up his second foul with 12:56 remaining in the first half. He came out of the game, and the Spartans went on a 22-6 run.
Beilein put him back in with 5:51 left in the first. Abdur-Rahkman ended up scoring 12 points in 30 minutes. He fouled out with 1:12 to play.
Michigan State: At Illinois on Sunday night.
Michigan: Hosts No. 24 Ohio State on Sunday.