- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Some thoughts after No. 8 Michigan State's 75-52 pulverizing of No. 4 Michigan on Tuesday night at the Breslin Center.
Overview: As Adreian Payne lifted his arms toward the home crowd, trying to get it louder with 7 minutes remaining in a game no longer in doubt, the Spartans forward looked like he wanted more.
All of Michigan State appeared to want more. Meanwhile, Michigan looked like it just wanted to travel the one hour southeast back to Ann Arbor as fast as possible. The Wolverines had already gone deeper than usual into their bench to play guard Eso Akunne and by then it didn’t matter, because nothing John Beilein's team was doing worked.
Michigan State dominated, almost from tip to final whistle.
Yes, it is tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, but for a program touted as a national-title contender all season, this was Michigan’s last chance to win a significant road game in the Big Ten. And it failed. Miserably.
The second-half comebacks Michigan had at Indiana and Ohio State didn’t show up, either, mostly due to Michigan State’s ability to control the paint and body up the Wolverines’ big men.
It all led to Michigan State’s first 20-plus-point victory over Michigan in over a decade, when the Spartans beat the Wolverines 71-44 on Jan. 30, 2002.
Turning point: Michigan State guard Keith Appling made three consecutive jumpers, including a 3-pointer in transition with 16:32 left, to give Michigan State a 48-29 lead and whipped the already-hyper Breslin student section into a loud, jumping, delirious frenzy of white shirts going nuts at every possible opportunity.
Key player: Spartans senior Derrick Nix punished Michigan’s four-headed big-man rotation inside in the first half and helped to open up everything else for the Spartans. Nix finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists on 7-of-10 shooting.
Key stat: Zero first-half points for Tim Hardaway Jr. After scoring 18, 23 and 18 points in the previous three games, respectively, Hardaway couldn’t find anything in the first half. He missed all six of his shots, including four 3-pointers. This from a player who brought Michigan back a week earlier against Ohio State by making six 3-pointers, then followed it up by making what was almost the game-winner at Wisconsin on Saturday. Without Hardaway's production, Michigan struggled to shoot 27.3 percent from the 3-point line in the first half. Hardaway would finish with two points.
Miscellaneous: Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, former coach Lloyd Carr and former Michigan basketball player Zack Novak all watched the game from behind the Wolverines' bench. Hoke and Michigan State counterpart Mark Dantonio had a brief chat before the game right behind the benches. After not scoring in double figures for almost a month, Nix now had back-to-back games with 10 points or more. This ends a rough four-game stretch for Michigan, which started the sequence as the No. 1 team in the nation. After a 1-3 swing with games at Indiana, Michigan State and Wisconsin and a home game against Ohio State, the Wolverines have some major regrouping to do.
Next game: Both teams receive something of a breather in the Big Ten. Michigan State travels to Nebraska for a game Saturday; Michigan has a home game against Penn State on Sunday.