February 23, 2014

Izzo looking for answers after 'tired' loss

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan State's hopes of winning its eighth Big Ten championship under Tom Izzo took a major hit on Sunday when the Spartans faded to a 79-70 loss at Michigan.

The Spartans (22-6, 11-4) fell a game behind Michigan in the loss column in the Big Ten standings. Michigan's last four games are highly-manageable, including trips to Purdue and Illinois and home games against Minnesota and Indiana.

Michigan State has home games against Illinois and Iowa followed by a trip to Ohio State.

The Spartans will need to win out and hope for a Wolverine stumble. However, one isn't likely if the Wolverines continue to play like they did on Sunday, seven days after a stale loss at home to Wisconsin.

A bye week agreed nicely with the Wolverines. Meanwhile, Michigan State hasn't had a bye week since Christmas - and it seemed to show on defense as their legs and minds seemed to flicker in the face of a 45-point second half for the Wolverines.

"The first game (against Michigan on Jan. 250, I was very proud of our effort. This game, we looked tired," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I'm not very proud of our effort."

Michigan's Nick Stauskas scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, repeatedly making contested shots from the perimeter to help the 20th-ranked Wolverines. Michigan rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit and trailed by just 2 at halftime, 36-34.

"It's been a strange year and it doesn't get any stranger than to go to your rival and shoot 54 percent, 40 from the three and lose," Izzo said. "And that's because I think we've become too much of an offensive team and not as good of a defensive team and eventually that gets you."

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