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Isaiah Livers’ return helps lift Michigan Wolverines over Michigan State, 77-68

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR — Isaiah Livers came back just in time for Michigan’s big game against its in-state rival.

The Wolverines’ 3-point accuracy returned too.

Livers scored 14 points 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 salvage a split of the regular-season series against the Spartans. Michigan also snapped a three-game home losing streak.

“Me or not, this game was going to be a tone setter,” Livers said. “I think we all did a great job coming out focused and staying disciplined to what the coaches believe that we can do.”

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.

“I don’t think I got an easy shot,” Winston said. “They made me work for a lot of shots and to get space. They did a good job on the defensive end.”

Michigan’s recent home woes have been largely because of poor outside shooting. That changed in a big way Saturday. The Wolverines (14-9, 5-7 Big Ten) 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. 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.

“It inspired the group, it inspired the crowd,” Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said. “Everyone looks at him as a very quiet player when he’s out there on the floor.”