Time is right for Wolverines to take their shot at Spartans


In two seasons at Michigan State, Jackson caught 17 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown in 10 games played.

"He doesn't like us", Beilein said Friday.

"We're the ones that are supposed to be out-toughing people".

No. 4 Michigan State gets a home test in the form of an in-state rivalry on Saturday afternoon, as the Spartans (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) take on unranked Michigan (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) inside the Breslin Center. Michigan State was expected to be at the top of league standings but with Ohio State and Purdue both undefeated through five games, the Spartans don't want to drop a second game in a week.

"Our program is traditionally built on toughness and that is something that we are lacking right now", Spartans forward Gavin Schilling said.

The Spartans are going to have to come out aggressive considering they have had some issues the past few games. Trailing 14-13, the Wolverines got five straight points from Wagner, a triple from Abdur-Rahkman and a drive from Matthews to take a 23-18 lead with just less than nine minutes to play in the first half.

It showed up on the defensive end, were the Spartans gave up 82 points, their second-highest total of the season.

Michigan State fought from behind throughout the first half, before a 9-2 run with 4:30 remaining, gave them the lead going into the break.

The first half was back and forth until the midway point when Michigan started to get in the lane and put pressure on the Michigan State defense. That was the last time these two teams matched up and Michigan State is ready to avenge that loss.

The Wolverines are going to play aggressively, but the Spartans will take advantage and hit some backdoor cuts and alley-oops. The upside to that is Michigan State's interior defense and rim protection is among the best in the country, but the downside is that the Spartans struggle to keep guards in front of them or to deal with mobile big men like Wagner.

"He has to be at his best for us to be the team we want to be", Nairn said. The Spartans (13-5, 3-2) shot 45 percent from the floor and were led by the fiery 5-foot-5 guard Taryn McCutcheon, who posted a career-high 25 points. Brianna Fraser led Maryland's team in scoring with 17 points, while shooting 55.6% from the field (making 5 of 9 attempts).

"I do enjoy that a little bit", he said. However, past year was an outlier as the games between these two teams average a 1.3 point differential in favor of the Spartans.

As compared to other issues for a basketball team, a disparity in toughness can be more hard to correct.

"We better get used to it", Frese said of Michigan State's aggression.