EAST LANSING, Mich. – Every time Trey Burke was poised to drive the lane, it seemed a white jersey was in his way.
And when Tim Hardaway Jr. tried to shoot Michigan back in the game in the second half, the Wolverines instead fell further behind.
Burke and Hardaway were a combined 5 of 21 from the field, and No. 23 Michigan couldn't overcome its backcourt struggles in Sunday's 64-54 loss at No. 9 Michigan State. The Wolverines lost to the Spartans for the first time in four meetings and remain stuck in a win-one, lose-one rut as the Big Ten season heads toward the home stretch.
"Sometimes we're on, sometimes we're off," Burke said. "They were just a better team today."
Burke had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting, but the 5-foot-11 point guard struggled to create anything in the lane after scoring 20 points in a win over the Spartans last month.
Hardaway had an even rougher afternoon. He went 1 for 10 and finished with only four points while the Michigan State fans taunted him with chants of "Not like daddy!" in the second half. Hardaway's father, the former NBA player, was sitting behind the Michigan bench.
Hardaway tried attacking the basket and shooting from the perimeter, but nothing seemed to work.
"They're in and out — or they're either short or long, but they're on line," he said. "I can't get upset with that. As long as they're on line, and they look good and feel good, just keep on shooting."
Michigan State's Draymond Green had 14 points and 16 rebounds, equaling the entire Michigan team's total on the boards. The Wolverines were outrebounded 40-16, and the Spartans had nearly as many rebounds on offense (12) as Michigan did on defense (13).
The Wolverines (17-7, 7-4) went scoreless for the game's first 5:09, and although it took the Spartans (18-5, 7-3) a little while to pull away, they led by as many as 14 points in the half. Burke's 3-pointer just before halftime made it 30-22, but Michigan couldn't pull any closer.
It was 45-37 with 8:35 remaining, but Green pushed the lead back to double digits with a jumper. Zack Novak made a layup for Michigan, but Green answered again inside to make it 49-39.
Starting with a loss at Iowa on Jan. 14, Michigan hasn't won or lost consecutive games in over three weeks.
Green played with a sprained left knee.
"There aren't many guys on this team that this game means more to than him," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Draymond didn't want to go out losing four in a row to them."
The Spartans took control with a 17-7 run in the first half and pulled away with eight straight points to take a 57-40 lead with just under 3 minutes left after Brandon Wood tracked down an offensive rebound and made a 3-pointer.
Hardaway missed his first six shots. He's had rough shooting stretches all season but has also made his share of big plays late in games, including in Michigan's 60-59 win over the Spartans on Jan. 17.
"We were trying to do everything we can. When he struggles like that, we just have to continue to work with him," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "He had a bad night, but he'll try to grow from this experience. I love coaching that kid."
Keith Appling and Branden Dawson each scored 10 points and Wood added nine for the Spartans, and stopping Burke and Hardaway was a team effort.
"The last game, he was able to come off ball screens and pretty much do whatever he wanted," said Appling, Michigan State's point guard. "Coach kind of emphasized the fact that we weren't going to let him get going. That's kind of the mindset we had when we went out there. He wasn't going to turn the corner on us, or he wasn't going to get any easy looks."
Novak scored 14 points and Jordan Morgan had 11 for Michigan.
Green was the center of attention before the game after being injured in a loss Tuesday night at Illinois and saying only death would keep him off the court against Michigan.
The do-it-all forward guaranteed Michigan State would win Sunday's game after missing a floating 10-footer in the final seconds of last month's setback in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines still have only one win on an opponent's home court this season.