Michigan's freshmen rattled on the road in raucous Breslin Center during 23-point loss to MSU
Until, of course, they play like it.
And Tuesday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, the Wolverines' five talented freshmen got introduced to the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry in a painful manner, dropping a 75-52 decision, the worst defeat to MSU in 11 years.
Asked if youth played a factor in this one Tuesday, Michigan players said that's no excuse -- and, frankly, they're tired of hearing about it.
"We're tired of talking about we're a young team," said Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., who finished 1 of 11 from the floor. "We just got to hold ourselves accountable. Everybody's getting film on us, and finding our weaknesses, so we have to do a better job of making our weaknesses our strengths."
Michigan started three freshmen Tuesday, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary -- who made the first start of his career.
Stauskas finished the game 4 of 8 from the floor with 10 points.
The rest of the crew, though, wasn't so fortunate.
Robinson continued his recent funk, going 1 of 4 from the floor for 2 points and 2 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. McGary made his first start, but had his worst showing in weeks, finishing with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
The bench wasn't much better either.
Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert went a combined 3 of 8, and were both basically a non-factor in this one.
Michigan State's freshmen, meanwhile, were huge. Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello combined for 32 points and 19 rebounds.
"We've got three pretty good freshmen, too," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Their freshmen deserve (credit) for what they've done, but our freshmen did a pretty good job themselves."
Asked after the game how Michigan can find a way to re-spark its group of freshmen down the stretch -- notably Robinson -- point guard Trey Burke came up short on answers.
"He's just got to continue to stay confident," Burke said. "He's young, he'll get better."
Long story short, Michigan's freshmen -- save for Stauskas -- didn't appear ready to play Tuesday when the team needed them the most.
The Wolverines have lived and died with five rookies in their rotation throughout this season, and Tuesday, they did much more of the latter.
Moving forward, they'll have to find a way to figure it out -- because these guys aren't going anywhere.
"It was some guys' first time playing here," Hardaway said. "They don't know the rivalry like that. It's different when you're a spectator, than being on the floor. Once you're on the floor, it's a whole different ballgame. It's going to be a fistfight.
"We just got to respond."
They'll get their next chance against Michigan State in three weeks (March 3).
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