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Michigan State beats No. 2 Michigan 70-64, boosts NCAA hopes

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Michigan forward Isaiah Livers (2) is defended by Michigan State guard Joshua Langford (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, March 7, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State's NCAA Tournament streak under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo appears to be alive and well after it was in dire straits a month ago.

Rocket Watts scored 21 points and Aaron Henry had 18 to lead the Spartans in a 70-64 victory over No. 2 Michigan on Sunday that seems to seal Izzo's 23rd consecutive appearance in college basketball's showcase.

“You’re damn right it matters," Izzo said.

The Spartans (15-11, 9-11 Big Ten) have won five of their last seven games, beating No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Illinois and their second-ranked rivals in the span of 16 days.

“I bet I never go through that again in my career," Izzo said.

The Wolverines (19-3, 14-3) closed the regular season getting routed at home by the Fighting Illini, beating Michigan State handily to clinch the Big Ten title and losing the rematch three days later.

And, Michigan might have lost more than that.

Senior guard Eli Brooks hurt his left ankle early in the game at the Breslin Center and did not return in what potentially could be a problem going into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Coach Juwan Howard did not have an update on Brooks after the game.