ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It took a while to bring out the sign, but in the final seconds Sunday, there was no reason to hold back.
Sitting in the Crisler Center stands, a group of Michigan fans waved it proudly as Michigan's 79-70 win over Michigan State expired, sealing the season sweep.
"You've been Staus-kissed."
After watching the final 20 minutes of the No.20 Wolverines' second win over No.13 MSU, one that gave Michigan a half-game Big Ten lead, no one watching needed an explanation.
Nik Stauskas ended the first matchup with Michigan State by blowing kisses to the Breslin Center crowd in mock appreciation after the Wolverines' five-point win.
On Sunday, it took him a half to get started, but once he did, it was duck and cover for the Spartans, who dropped their sixth game in the past eight matchups against the Wolverines.
Michigan trailed by two points at halftime as Stauskas followed his recent path, barely shooting and barely scoring.
Then he changed the mind-set and carried the Wolverines (19-7, 11-3 Big Ten) along with him.
"In the first half I only took three shots and I'm starting to experience this so much where every game it just seems like I'm being contained," Stauskas said of his four-point first half. "I kind of came out and was like, 'I'm done with this. I'm not going to be contained anymore.'"
So he started attacking. He opened the second half with Michigan's first five points to grab the first lead since 4-2.
He waited a few minutes and watched the Spartans (22-6, 11-4) reclaim the margin before running off 11 straight points. By the time he and Caris LeVert completed their two-man 21-4 run, MSU was waving the white flag, down 12 points with 7:21 to play, buried under an avalanche of three-pointers, fast breaks and the raucous Crisler crowd.
By game's end, he had 25 points, LeVert had 23 and the Spartans were left to pick up the pieces.
Given the Spartans' sliding will, which MSU coach Tom Izzo told them was disappointing, the game was essentially over at that point, a stunning turn for a team that controlled most of the first half, shooting 59 percent from the field.
Not only did Michigan crank up the offense that rolled to an 8-0 Big Ten start, there was defensive life, holding MSU nearly nine minutes with only one field goal.
MSU, which ended the game shooting 54 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range, led by 11 in the first half and still felt helpless in the final seven minutes.
"We ran for 300 yards, passed for 400 yards and got beat," said Izzo, whose team was led by Gary Harris' 21 points. "You've got to check somebody. It's the name of the game, how you win big games, how you win on the road. We weren't as pretty when we had those guys out but we were checking better."
For the Wolverines, a strong defensive stretch mirrored the path to the victory in East Lansing, and gave them their first elite win since that Jan. 25 game.
With four bottom-feeding Big Ten teams remaining in the regular season, they're now the favorite for the title, as even one loss will give them a share.
The Michigan players resisted calling it a statement win, possibly because it's now the norm.
For the Spartans, riddled with injuries and suddenly lacking effort, it was a bloody Sunday.
As Izzo's news conference wound down, the lights went out in the room.
"That's perfect," Izzo said, sarcastically.