ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Isaiah Livers scored 14 points in his return to the lineup, and Zavier Simpson added 16 to lift Michigan to a scrappy 77-68 victory over No. 16 Michigan State on Saturday.
Livers injured his groin Dec. 21 and missed nine of the next 10 games, but he was in the starting lineup and helped the Wolverines (14-9, 5-7 Big Ten) salvage a split of the regular-season series against their in-state rival. Michigan also snapped a three-game home losing streak.
Cassius Winston, who scored 32 points in Michigan State’s 87-69 win over the Wolverines last month, scored 20 in the rematch but shot just 5 of 18 from the field.
Michigan’s recent home woes have been largely because of poor outside shooting. That changed in a big way Saturday. The Wolverines went 11 of 28 from 3-point range while Michigan State (16-8, 8-5) was only 6 of 23.
The Spartans have lost three games in a row.
Michigan State only had one lead – 1-0 early in the game. Michigan led 29-23 at halftime, and although the Spartans pulled within one in the second half, they lost to the Wolverines for the first time in five meetings.
Jon Teske, who had not scored to that point, threw down a one-handed alley-oop dunk to put Michigan up 46-40. A putback by Brandon Johns capped a 19-8 run that made it 58-46.
Michigan State: The Spartans were unlucky to catch Michigan on one of the Wolverines’ best shooting days of late, but Michigan State’s struggles on the offensive end may be a bigger concern. The Spartans shot 33 percent from the floor.
Michigan: It was a crucial win for the Wolverines and new coach Juwan Howard. They’ve been near the bottom of the league standings after an impressive nonconference start. With Livers back, they’ll hope for a strong finish.
That nation’s top-ranked team in the preseason, the Spartans will likely drop some more after a pair of losses this week.
Michigan State: The Spartans face another tough road game Tuesday night against No. 20 Illinois.
Michigan: The Wolverines play at Northwestern on Wednesday night.