- Associated Press - Sunday, January 29, 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Derrick Walton drew foul after foul in the second half, trying to keep Michigan in the game against a tough Michigan State defense.

The Wolverines needed a few more players with Walton’s aggressiveness.

Michigan fell to the Spartans 70-62 on Sunday, shooting just 34 percent from the field on a day Michigan State swarmed the perimeter. Aside from Walton, the Wolverines didn’t seem to have anyone who could attack the basket effectively, and they had to take well-contested 3-pointers on many possessions.

The Wolverines went 7 of 26 from beyond the arc.

“We settled a lot,” Walton said. “That’s a great word to use. We settled a ton, and coach (John Beilein) said that as well. As the leader, as the point guard, I’ve got to make sure we get better shots. I wouldn’t say it’s all on me, but it’s a big part.”

Walton scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half, and the senior went 14 of 15 on free throws in the game. Moe Wagner was the only other Michigan player in double figures with 10 points.

Zak Irvin went scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting, and Beilein said the senior has been dealing with the flu.

The Wolverines were coming off a 90-60 win over Indiana on Thursday night, when they played about as well offensively as a team can. Against Michigan State, they had problems from the start. Michigan shot 11 of 34 in the first half - 3 of 13 from 3-point range - and trailed 32-28 at halftime. Walton started the second half by sinking a couple open 3-pointers, and the Wolverines led 40-39 after a basket by Wagner.

Then Michigan State went on a 12-2 run and the Wolverines couldn’t come back as their offense seemed like it was in first gear.

The final margin might have been worse if the Wolverines hadn’t come up with 14 offensive rebounds. The hustle was there, but it wasn’t enough.

“Give Derrek Walton credit,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “He did what seniors do. He kind of took over that game and just got to the line. He did an unbelievable job of it. I thought he played awfully well. I thought we did a decent job on Zak Irvin.”

Michigan (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten) has reached the midway point of its Big Ten schedule with a sub-.500 conference mark. It could have been worse after the Wolverines dropped three of their first four league games, but they’ve put themselves in a dicey spot in terms of their NCAA Tournament hopes.

Michigan State (13-9, 5-4) has its own concerns about the postseason, but the Spartans defended their home court against their rivals. The rematch in Ann Arbor is Feb. 7.

“The big benefit is that the kids don’t have to relearn the scouting for it. I think they’ve got enough short-term memory, but Michigan State is good,” Beilein said. “I give them a ton of credit right now and we’ve got to get better.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide