East Lansing, MI – With 7:39 left in the first half, a Detroit Mercy coach could be heard saying, "How you feeling right now," inside the huddle down two points to Michigan State.
A low energy start by the Spartans resulted in both teams heading towards the locker room tied at 35-points, and UDM well past the point of believing they could hang with MSU.
Without fans to give Michigan State a lift, the responsibility landed on their shoulders to pull it together, but with an underdog foe lingering, who would give Michigan State the spark they needed?
After 20-minutes, the shot chart showed MSU as 4-for-13 on layups; that's not going to get it done against anyone.
Neither will eleven first half turnovers.
The Duke hangover, something Tom Izzo expressed his concerns on ahead of time, was alive and well.
Rocket Watts led the team in scoring at intermission – he checked back in following a lengthy sit due to a no assist, two turnover start.
Through three contests, Michigan State began getting used to going on significant runs, but Detroit Mercy came to play and went on a 12-2 run to pull within one point of the lead.
The only thing stopping junior guard Antoine Davis was foul trouble; otherwise, he did what he wanted, scoring 24 on 26 shots – not the most efficient, but his presence was felt.
Turns out, the Spartans, who entered as 25-point favorites, were set to have a competitive matchup with a Detroit team refusing to go away.
Michigan State desperately needed to respond because to begin the second half, the Titans didn't let up, but neither did MSU.
Redshirt junior forward Joey Hauser hit three jumpers in a row, giving the Spartans a slim lead; however, Matt Johnson exploded from deep, sinking nine points from three-point land.
The game clock read 11:42 – Michigan State hadn't made a field goal in 2:50, and the Titans held a 53-52 advantage; their energy, confidence, and play were all high, whereas MSU remained lethargic at best.
Michigan State's brutal offense (6-for-18 on 3P & 17 giveaways) featured Watts, the lone bright spot who turned it around, finishing with a career-high 23-points and single-handedly pulled the Spartans into a 62-62 tie; before assisting on a basket, giving MSU an edge with 6:35 remaining.
The Titans fought until the end, but Michigan State wouldn't surrender another lead change thanks to a dagger three by Gabe Brown; leading to a 83-76 victory for MSU.
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