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Unranked Michigan State beats No. 2 Michigan in regular season finale

Unranked Michigan State beats No. 2 Michigan in regular season finale
Michigan State's Rocket Watts scored a game-high 21 points off the bench in the Spartans' upset win over Michigan on Sunday in East Lansing, Mich. Photo by Alexander Jonesi/Wikimedia Commons

March 8 (UPI) -- Unranked Michigan State boosted its men's basketball tournament resume with an upset victory over chief rival and No. 2 Michigan in its final game of the regular season.

Rocket Watts scored a game-high 21 points off the Spartans bench in the 70-64 win Sunday in East Lansing, Mich.

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The Spartans have won five of their last seven games, despite a tough schedule down the stretch -- which included resume-boosting victories over No. 4 Illinois and No. 10 Ohio State.

"I'm proud of my team," Spartans coach Tom Izzo told reporters. "I'm happy for our program, happy for our former players, happy for everybody.

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"I'm happy for me that I'll go home and get some rest, and then see if we can move on and get ready for the Big Ten tournament."

The Spartans built a 5-point lead midway through the first half, but the Wolverines rallied to steal the lead before Watts managed to keep the Spartans ahead 30-26 at halftime.

Michigan State then pushed its lead to 10 points midway though the second half. Michigan's Hunter Dickinson made a layup and a free throw with 1:12 remaining to cut the lead to 61-59.

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Spartans guard Joshua Langford hit a clutch 3-pointer with 49 seconds left to push the lead back to 5 points. Gabe Brown and Aaron Henry made six free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Henry had 18 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists for the Spartans. Senior guard Chaundee Brown led the Wolverines with 13 points off the bench. Dickinson had 12 points and 7 rebounds in the loss.

"Words can't explain of how proud I am of [Watts]," Langford told reporters. "I am with him every day. I've seen the work that he has put in.

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"I've had the conversations with him and just how he wants to do so well for this team and for him to have a breakout night of this nature, it's just exciting."

The Spartans (15-11, 9-11 Big Ten) next face Maryland in the Big Ten tournament at 11:30 a.m. EST Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The winner will advance to play the Wolverines (19-3, 14-3) on Friday.

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