UM vs. MSU observations: Spartans still lack toughness

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Miles Bridges drives to the basket and makes a reverse layup for Michigan State.

East Lansing – Matt Charboneau’s observations on Michigan State and Michigan following the Wolverines’ 82-72 victory on Saturday at the Breslin Center:


Turnovers – It continues to be the Achilles heel for the Spartans, who gave it up 18 times on Saturday, which turned into 26 Michigan points. Michigan State entered the game averaging 13.7 turnovers a game, among the worst in the Big Ten.

Guarding guards – The Spartans couldn’t keep Michigan’s guards out of the lane as Zavier Simpson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Charles Matthews penetrated at will.

Ward negated – Michigan State’s inability to get over ball screens left Nick Ward in a difficult place defensively and forced MSU to limit his minutes. It was a huge factor as Ward managed to get just five shots and was held to five points.

In a funk – Michigan State found itself in its third tough game and has yet to respond with the toughness Tom Izzo seeks. With the game on the line, it was the Wolverines who took control.


Free throws – The Wolverines entered the game 13th in the Big Ten in free-throw shooting percentage but shot 80 percent (28-for-35) on Saturday, despite Zavier Simpson missing four straight in the final minutes.

The villain – Big man Moe Wagner relished the “bad guy” role at the Breslin Center, hitting big shot after big shot and finishing with a career-high 27 points, quieting the crowd on a consistent basis.

Get rolling – After a slow start to the season, sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson was again at his best, handing out five assists without a turnover while scoring 16 points.

Resume builder – After the tough loss early in the week to Purdue, the Wolverines were in need of a marquee win. It was especially important considering the Big Ten doesn’t offer many highly-ranked opponents this season.