EAST LANSING – Thursday night was the first of back-to-back games for Michigan State against their in-state rival, Michigan.
Despite not playing well, MSU hung around with the Wolverines for the first 18-19 minutes, but nothing about the Spartan's performance screamed upset.
U-M turned on the second-half jets and blew Michigan State out of the Crisler Center, 69-50.
The Wolverines started on a 25-4 run, effectively ending any chance of a comeback after a Franz Wagner 3-pointer went through the net with 6:20 remaining.
And MSU unofficially called it a day when Aaron Henry joined Joshua Langford on the bench two minutes later.
Tom Izzo held his postgame presser per usual; here are three takeaways from what he said.
Did the Flagrant One Foul on Aaron Henry Change the Game?
Henry picked up his second foul, a flagrant one call, at the 2:45 mark, following an incidental elbow hitting Wagner's face. It was a questionable call and swung momentum towards Michigan.
"I'll be honest with you; it shouldn't have been," said Izzo. It was a big call because it put him on the bench. I did not see it, so I had no idea. You guys all saw it replayed. I did not see it. Was it a right call, wrong call? I don't know. Was it a turning point? It was a big play. So let's just say that, and if it was the right call, it was still a big play. I would agree with you."
The Spartans were on a run trailing by five points; had it been a no-call, Henry would have shot two free-throws. He wouldn't have gone to the bench, and it's unlikely U-M ends the half on a 9-2 run.
It's also tough to conclude MSU spiraled because of one call; the Spartans have to battle through.
Without Henry, Michigan exposed MSU.
Was Michigan State Relying on Henry too much?
Yes, the Spartans heavily relied on Henry to keep it close in the first half.
After scoring 14 points and shooting 6-of-9 from the field, he missed his final six attempts and ran out of gas.
Nobody blames Henry; Michigan State needs to find offensive production elsewhere. It can't be all Henry all the time.
"I'd say that he got into that a little bit; we got into that. Sometimes when I got to put him at the point ... it wears you down to play that position if you play it right," Izzo said. "He did play well in the first half until he got into that ... did anybody see it? Do you know what happened? Hard to say?"
Langford, Gabe Brown, Rocket Watts, and Joey Hauser combined for 20 points, six more than Henry.
It's simply not enough, and if MSU doesn't want to be embarrassed at the Breslin Center Sunday afternoon, it better find another clearcut option.
Is Joshua Langford Gassed? Is the entire team running on fumes?
Michigan State has played six games in 12 days; it's completely running on fumes. There's no question, but having been on the brink of missing the NCAA Tournament, MSU has attempted to ignore it.
And outside of two recent losses (Maryland & Michigan), the Spartans have done an excellent job of keeping it close down the stretch and coming out on top.
"Josh is okay. He's okay. They did a good job on him. It was a little bit of rough going, but we didn't run the stuff that we wanted to run," said Izzo. "That wasn't all Josh's fault. We'll get Josh back on normal. He was great after the game; tired. He's going to be tired."
The 66-year old added that Langford still has his legs; however, he and the rest of the team need time to rest up ahead of Sunday.
We'll see if they get it.
"I don't think I'm going to worry about healing; I'm going to be worried about practicing," Izzo said. "At least one day, I'll get to practice here. It's been one day in about two weeks. We need it. That's not all their fault."
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