In front of a raucous crowd at the Breslin Center on Tuesday night, No. 8 Michigan State absolutely embarrassed No. 4 Michigan, 75-52.
The Spartans move to 10-2 in the Big Ten with their fourth straight win, while the Wolverines drop to 8-4 in conference play with their third loss in four games.
Michigan State controlled this one from the opening tip on, and it started with about as good of a first half as could have realistically been expected.
On defense, the Spartans were aggressive, suffocating and fired up, holding the normally efficient Wolverines offense to just 24 points on 41.7 percent shooting from the field and 27.3 percent from long range in the first half.
Trey Burke had 10 points, three assists and two steals, but got little help. Tim Hardaway Jr. put up a goose egg on 0-of-6 shooting and Glenn Robinson III was held to just one basket.
The Spartans were equally as dominant with the ball their hands.
Derrick Nix controlled the paint—where MSU had a clear advantage—with 10 points, Gary Harris hit three treys, Branden Dawson turned his sticky defense into offense with eight points, and Tom Izzo's squad finished the half with 38 points on 53.3 percent shooting.
Who was the MVP of this one?
The second half was more of the (exact) same.
Burke continued to attempt to spark the Wolverines, but he was the only bright spot for Michigan, as the Spartans continued to impose their will in head-turning fashion.
In addition to more dominant, effort-filled defense, they moved the ball with unbelievable precision and had their counterparts looking completely lost. Harris knocked down some more threes, Nix continued to dominate in the paint, and freshman Denzel Valentine had a Draymond Green-like second half filling up the box score.
The Spartans finished at 48.4 percent from the field (compared to 39.6 for Michigan) with 18 assists (six for Michigan), just eight turnovers (16 for Michigan) and an all-around dismantling of their intrastate rival.
At halftime, USA Today's Nicole Auerbach noted just how dominant the Spartans were on the interior:
Points in the paint: Michigan State 24, Michigan 8.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 13, 2013
The uninspiring first half for the Wolverines led ESPN's Myron Medcalf to wonder just how far their defense could take them:
This game, thus far, justifies concerns that Michigan's D is not elite enough for a Final Four/national title run.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) February 13, 2013
But, hey, that doesn't mean Michigan State doesn't deserve credit. The Spartans' energy even impressed Miami point guard Shane Larkin:
Michigan State just slapped the floor on D! Lol I like it. That really got the crowd into it— Shane Larkin (@SLarkin_0) February 13, 2013
While UM fans are likely in the dumps right about now, CBS Sports' Gary Parrish's tweet helps explain some of the Wolverines' recent struggles:
Will anybody play a tougher 4-game stretch than this one by Michigan? It was at Indiana, vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) February 13, 2013
Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier.
While parity and nail-biting battles have reigned supreme at the top of the Big Ten this season, Sports Illustrated's Andy Glockner acclaimed just how telling this controlling win was for MSU:
I rarely overreact to one game, but this is the kind of "drop the hammer" performance that no one has shown in the B10 yet.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) February 13, 2013
Of course, this is nothing new for Izzo's Spartans. CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello:
Look at Tom Izzo slow-playing his hand all season. And then boom, suddenly has a Straight Flush in mid-February. EVERY YEAR.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 13, 2013
With March quickly approaching, it's officially time to start paying attention to both major schools in the state of Michigan.