Spartans blow past Wolverines for Big Ten title

Spartans blow past Wolverines for Big Ten title
March 16, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Vinnie Duber

It was already known that Michigan State was going to the NCAA tournament, but now the Spartans' bid is an automatic one.

Michigan State knocked off in-state rival and regular-season champion Michigan, 69-55, in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday in Indianapolis.

The Spartans followed up their dominant semifinal performance against Wisconsin on Saturday with another impressive effort Sunday. Michigan State out-shot Michigan, 50 percent to 31.5 percent, and tallied more rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. With back-to-back days of eye-opening play, it looks like the Spartans, who struggled to find their way down the stretch of the regular season, are officially back from their injury funk. Now, Michigan State could be one of the teams to beat once the Big Dance starts up this week.

Adreian Payne led the way for the Spartans with 18 points and nine rebounds. Branden Dawson and Gary Harris each scored 15 points.

For Michigan, the inability to pair a conference-tournament title with its regular-season title likely means no No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Wolverines' 55 points were the second fewest in a game this season. The only smaller scoring output came in a 63-52 loss to Indiana on Feb. 2.

The tournament title was the fourth ever for Michigan State, including its second in the last three seasons.