They fought and they clawed.
They played 40 minutes as if it was going to be their last.
At the end of the day, mentally, it may have been.
In Michigan's (10-10) loss to Michigan State (18-3), more than a game may have been lost—the hope and the faith of a tournament bid to salvage what has been a horribly mediocre season—might have as well.
Manny Harris returned from his suspension, actually coming off the bench with about 17-minutes to play in the first half. He added the spark his teammates and fans needed and for a good portion of the game it was enough.
It's a 40-minute game though.
And with about five seconds left, it was MSU coming through with the clutch jumper, taking a one-point lead, and UM trying to find a way to respond.
Michigan, with a three-point lead and only 90 seconds left to play, let it slip away, and now had to let their season come down to three seconds.
Fast forward to the end of those three seconds and you could say a intentional foul should have been called on MSU for grabbing Manny Harris' jersey to disrupt the offensive play call, and bring the clock to just 1.5 seconds.
You could also say the lob to the basket from the inbound play, with 1.5 seconds left, contained a little too much shoving of DeShawn Sims (who still caught the ball, but put a little too much power off the backboard).
But in the end, the optimal word is COULD.
Sims could have made the basket to win the game with no time left, he didn't.
And when you lose a game this close, to your bitter in-state rival, in a season that has already been filled with lows, unattained expectations, and mental shortcomings, the straw on the camels back might just have broke.
A win could have brought the lackluster season into the distant memory of many.
A win could have rejuvenated the UM basketball program once again.
A win against the No. 5 ranked team in the country, along with the win against Connecticut a week ago, could have been the marquee wins of the season to propel them into the tourney.
But COULD doesn't count.
And now, minus a miraculous stretch run, not only does Michigan's promising season seem over, UM fans just have to hope mentally, the team can keep it together and finish over .500.
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