ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Two top-10 teams with a combined three consecutive losses played a game Sunday befitting their high ranking -- and their urgent need for a victory in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten. With a sellout, yellow-clad crowd at Crisler Arena roaring every Michigan success, the Wolverines edged the Spartans 58-57 that ultimately created more confusion near the top of America's best basketball conference.
The crucial offensive play was provided courtesy of sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who stripped Michigan State guard Keith Appling of the ball in the open court, and drove in for a dunk to break a tie and put Michigan up 58-56 with 22 seconds remaining. On defense, Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. and Burke combined to steal the ball as the Spartans were trying to set up a last-second shot to win the game.
Fourth-ranked Michigan's victory, coupled with No. 17 Wisconsin's loss Sunday to unranked Purdue, created a four-way tie for second-place in the Big Ten between the Wolverines, the Spartans, the Badgers and Ohio State. That quartet, each with an 11-5 conference mark, sits two games behind league-leading Indiana with two games remaining.
Unlike the season's first matchup between Michigan and Michigan State, played in February and dominated by the No. 9 Spartans (22-7), Michigan (24-5) kept the game close in the first half, and took the lead in the second with a performance that turned, surprisingly, on the Wolverines' inside play.
Known more as a 3-point shooting club, Michigan scored essentially at will on the Spartans in the interior Sunday, making up for the absence of 3-point shooter Nik Stauskas.
Without Stauskas, who was knocked out of the game early in the first half after being elbowed in the head while going for a rebound, Michigan did not make a 3-pointer all game. Although they typically score nearly 24 points per game on 3-pointers, the Wolverines won this one the old-fashioned way: with gritty inside play.
Burke led Michigan with 21 points, followed by freshman center Mitch McGary who chipped in with 11. Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III had eight points, to help erase the sting of Wednesday's loss at Penn State. Michigan State, which had lost back-to-back games to Indiana and Ohio State, saw its losing streak extended to three.
The Spartans, who badly outrebounded Michigan in East Lansing and forced 16 Wolverine turnovers, beat Michigan on the boards again, but committed 18 turnovers compared with seven by the Wolverines. Michigan State was led in scoring by Adreian Payne with 17 points and freshman guard Gary Harris with 16.
Notes: Michigan State went more than five minutes before scoring its first second-half points, which came on a jumper by freshman guard Harris. ... The Wolverines drew three charging fouls in the opening minutes of the second half. ... The last time Michigan State lost three in row was during January, 2011.