Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

To avoid upset, Michigan State Basketball needs overtime to outlast Rutgers

To avoid upset, Michigan State Basketball needs overtime to outlast Rutgers

A struggling Wisconsin team coming off a stretch of underwhelming performances who's status in the Big Ten and on the NCAA Tournament bubble uncertain welcomes a last-place Michigan State team to the Kohl Center and looks to re-energize itself in the first home series of the new year.

Omoruyi credited the preparation of the team and game planning by the coaches for their near-upset, but noted that it was hard to stay in the game when four players fouled out.

Redshirt sophomore wing Charles Matthews has emerged as the top player for the Wolverines and has scored in double figures the last eight games, while junior center Moritz Wagner and fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson have had an up-and-down year so far. Sophomore Joshua Langford has become a consistent scorer from the perimeter - scoring in double digits in all but five games - and is one of the Spartans' top defenders on the perimeter and rebounding guards. Jones led the team in scoring, with a 15-point average, before suffering a broken wrist in December. Does he have it in him to take over a game? In 29 minutes, Fraser added 17 points, 8 rebounds and 1 steal with 4 turnovers.

Last season, the Spartans and Wolverines met twice, each winning their home game.

McCutcheon made successive 3-pointers during the pivotal third-quarter surge, and the sophomore's long-range jumper with 6 minutes left made it 69-58 - effectively ending any hope Maryland had of making a comeback. But the Terrapins shot only 39 percent and committed 24 turnovers in their first loss since November 19 at CT. Rutgers brings in an 11-6 record while Michigan State is 15-2 on the season. This season, that has changed significantly. MSU held a 10-point lead at one point in the half, but after the Scarlet Knights cut the deficit to seven, they took a 32-25 lead with them into the locker room.

"We better get used to it", Frese said of Michigan State's aggression. Over the past four contests, Livers has scored in double figures three times and Poole twice.

It's always easy to overlook the coach when a team is expected to be good, but to discredit the job Tom Izzo has done would be naïve. Maryland (14-4), one of the teams tied for fourth, faces a pivotal stretch with back-to-back road games against Ohio State and MI and a home game against Minnesota. Don't think Miles Bridges and Co. have forgotten about the 86-57 loss from last season, but that won't stop this rivalry game from going down to the wire. That included nearly 20-point wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame.

"They're a tough team, they're a big team", Ward said.

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