The Michigan Wolverines have been inconsistent this season, at times playing every bit as well as last year's national runner-up team and at times playing nothing like it. The No. 20 Wolverines were the former Sunday, exploding in the second half and hammering down on a tired No. 13 Michigan State Spartans team for a 79-70 win at home.
Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert co-starred for Michigan, taking over the second half in alternating turns. Stauskas' jumper got going and devastated the Spartans' defense. Stauskas had four points at halftime, but he scored the Wolverines' first five points out of the locker room to start the second half.
It was the barrage from Stauskas and LeVert in the second half that sank the Spartans. In a span of less than three minutes, Michigan turned a one-point deficit into a 12-point lead with all 13 unanswered points scored exclusively by those two. Stauskas started it with a three, and then LeVert hit two free throws. Stauskas hit two threes in a row, and LeVert capped it with a soaring dunk with 7:21 to play to give Michigan a 64-52 lead, its largest lead of the game.
Stauskas finished with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting. LeVert finished with 23.
The Wolverines now lead Michigan State by one game in the loss column in the Big Ten standings, and their schedule from here on out gives them an even larger advantage. They have four games left: road games to Purdue and Illinois, and home games against Minnesota and Indiana.
Michigan State still hosts Illinois and Iowa, and it closes its regular season on the road March 9 against Ohio State. With three games to go, these two teams seem to have a grasp on the top two seeds in the Big Ten Tournament. Even after Sunday's loss, Michigan State is still a game and a half up on third-place Wisconsin.