Michigan hits low point in dreadful loss at Michigan State, enters put-up or shut-up territory
Not because he couldn't find any, but because he was sick and tired of looking for them.
"We've been talking as players after losses," said Burke, indicating that the time for talk is now over. "This is the worst I've been beaten since I've been here.
"It was an embarrassing loss."
Embarrassing, humbling, shocking, upsetting -- take your pick. When it came to fourth-ranked Michigan's 75-52 clunker at No. 8 Michigan State on Tuesday, any adjective describing a rough situation probably worked just fine.
Michigan State punched Michigan in the mouth early in this one, and rather than absorbing the blow and fighting back, the Wolverines crumbled into a fine dust -- and watched as the rival Spartans partied their way to the most lopsided win in this series since 2002.
"That was the worst we've played in a long, long time, and credit Michigan State for that," Michigan coach John Beilein said after the game. "We didn't deserve to win that game.
"Maybe we got exactly what we deserved."
Afterward, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo estimated that Tuesday's effort was probably the best his team has put together in three years -- and Michigan's was probably its worst in that stretch.
Regardless of how it went down, the Wolverines (21-4, 8-4) are now officially on the outside looking in with regard to the Big Ten race, two full games behind the Spartans (21-4, 10-2) with just six regular season games remaining.
But more than that, Michigan's at a point where it needs to figure out what type of team it wants to be.
The Wolverines fell behind early, came back, and fell apart late on the road at Indiana. They struggled to fight through a physical matchup with Ohio State at home, basically winning at the buzzer in overtime. They couldn't close the deal on the road at Wisconsin, thanks in large part to a lucky last-second halfcourt shot.
And on Tuesday, the wheels came off.
It's pretty simple at this point.
Is this a team that peaked in January, or a team that fights through adversity to prove its previous No. 1 national ranking wasn't a total fluke?
"We need to make a decision on how good we want to be," Michigan forward Jordan Morgan said. "We get all these numbers and all these rankings and stuff, but at the end of the day, that doesn't really mean much when we step out there.
"Other teams don't care about that stuff."
On Tuesday, Michigan never gave itself a chance.
The Wolverines gave the Spartans basically anything they wanted.
Michigan turned the ball over a season-worst 16 times, was bludgeoned on the glass 41-30, was dominated inside 36-22.
The Wolverines were even beaten on fast break points in this one, 15-9, a statistic that's basically been their calling card for most of the season.
Michigan State answered the bell Tuesday, while Michigan ran and hid.
"It's pretty embarrassing," Morgan said. "I just hope we realize what happened today just isn't OK."
Michigan closed the toughest portion of its schedule at 1-3, with losses on the road against Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
The Wolverines will play road games against Purdue and Penn State to close out the season, but have now gone 0-4 on the road against the league's elite squads.
And now, the time for talking about what went wrong and discussing what needs to improve is over.
For Michigan, this is put-up or shut-up territory.
"We can't hold our heads down, we have to keep our heads up and try to get better," Burke said. "Sometimes you have games like that.
"As a player playing for so long and wanting to have a future in basketball, you just have some nights like this. You have to learn from it."
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