Less than a month removed from being embarrassed in East Lansing, the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines out-worked No. 9 Michigan State to a physical 58-57 win at the Crisler Center on Sunday afternoon.
National Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke did Trey Burke things, scoring 21 points to go with eight assists, five steals, just two turnovers and the game-winning steal and layup to give his previously faltering squad a crucial rivalry win.
Who will go farther in the Big Dance?
Both squads are now 11-5 in the Big Ten, putting them in a four-way tie for second place and two games behind Indiana.
Early on, Tom Izzo's squad looked intent on making it 2-0 against the intrastate rivals. Adreian Payne showcased his improved outside stroke in the first half as the Spartans jumped out to a 31-28 lead.
But led by Burke, critical bench production from Mitch McGary (11 points, three offensive rebounds) and Caris Levert (eight points, two steals) and a surprisingly stout defensive effort (MSU shot 35.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 times), the Wolverines quickly regained the lead.
They began the half with an 8-0 run to take the five-point lead and eventually stretched the advantage to 10 with under five minutes to play.
As we've learned during this nail-biting season, though, Big Ten games are never that simple.
Payne (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Gary Harris (16 points) both caught fire, and MSU tied the game with 54 seconds remaining.
But with 20 seconds to go, Burke picked Keith Appling's pocket and took it in for the game-winning layup, essentially summarizing the entire game with one play.
The Spartans had a chance for the win, but couldn't get a shot off in the final seconds.
Early on, CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb noticed that the Wolverines were playing Michigan State's bigs a certain way:
Michigan playing Payne to only go right, Nix to only go left #scouting— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 3, 2013
Consider John Beilein's strategic ploy 50 percent successful. Payne knocked down five of his eight shots—although two were from deep for the big man with increasing range—for 12 points in the first half, but Nix missed all four of his attempts and managed just two points to go with an anemic five turnovers.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports' resident bracketologist, Jerry Palm, pointed out that the loss for Michigan State nearly crushes its No. 1 seed hopes, but if anyone can do it...
According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein, Burke joined a prestigious group with a second-half assist to McGary:
Trey Burke now has 200 assists this season. Only 4th Michigan player to ever do that, joining Rumeal Robinson, Gary Grant & @dariusmorris4— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) March 3, 2013
For what it's worth, Darius Morris has the all-time Michigan record with 235 in 2010-11.
Of course, Burke scores a little bit too, and when he put in the game-winner, ESPN's Jimmy Dykes summed up what pretty much everyone was thinking:
That was a Natl POY play by Burke.— Jimmy Dykes (@JimmyDykesLive) March 3, 2013
Yeah, he's this good (via CBS Sports' Matt Norlander):
Trey Burke for Oceans 14.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 3, 2013