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No. 14 Spartans Roll In Big Ten Home-Opener
 
 
 
Michigan State's Paul Davis goes up for a dunk over Indiana's Marshall Strickland, bottom, during the first half. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
 
Michigan State's Paul Davis goes up for a dunk over Indiana's Marshall Strickland, bottom, during the first half. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
 
 

Jan. 11, 2006

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Maurice Ager and Paul Davis were challenged publicly and privately by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo after two poor games.

They responded.

Ager scored 28 points and Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the 14th-ranked Spartans to their first Big Ten win, 87-73 over No. 9 Indiana on Wednesday night.

Michigan State (13-4, 1-2) bounced back from two straight double-digit losses because Ager and Davis were tough to stop after struggling in those setbacks. Ager and Davis combined for 34 points at No. 7 Illinois and No. 21 Wisconsin.

"It's a no-brainer, we can't win if me and Paul both play bad," Ager said.

That's essentially what Izzo told reporters, and the standout seniors.

"That's what you're supposed to do with good players that have been around for four years," Izzo said. "I do spend a lot of time with them, and I tell them, 'I'm not going to make excuses for you.'

"I did not think I went after either player. I just said they didn't play well. If a guy can't take that, whether he's in college or the pros, something is wrong."

Marco Killingsworth had 27 points and Robert Vaden added 20 for the Hoosiers (10-3, 2-1), who had won six straight and reached their highest ranking since Dec. 16, 2002.

"In the second half, we had no energy on the defensive end," Vaden said. "I don't know why we didn't come out and fight."

The Spartans made 64 percent of their shots after halftime as they outscored Indiana by 12.

Michigan State went ahead for good midway through the first half and pulled away with a 10-0 run, taking a 76-60 lead with 3:34 left.

"It's not the end of the world when you're 0-2, but who's kidding who? Everybody was down," Izzo said. "It wasn't a monstrous step, but we beat a good team. That's the fifth Top Ten team we've played, and the third we've beaten."

 

 

Matt Trannon scored a career-high 11 points, helping the Spartans beat the Hoosiers for the 12th straight time at home.

Indiana was without standout forward D.J. White, who injured his left foot in the previous game after breaking it earlier this season. White wore a shirt, tie, slacks and a protective boot, and cheered on one foot at times from the end of the bench.

"With him breaking it on Saturday, it was devastating to him, and some of his teammates," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "When he came back, we were a Top 5 team, that's what (the players) were saying and feeling.

"I could kind of see it, our guys were down today without him."

The Hoosiers were also without guard Lewis Monroe, who was coming off a strong game, because of an undisclosed health condition. Davis hoped Monroe could return for the next game, Tuesday against Illinois.

"Lewis not being there with his toughness and presence, that really bothered our guys, too," Davis said, "They're looking around, and they're without two starters."

The Hoosiers shot 54.7 percent, snapping a 30-game winning streak when making at least half of their shots, dating to a loss at Ohio State on Jan. 19, 2002.

Michigan State connected on 58.8 percent of its shots and outrebounded Indiana 29-18.

"They made shots and when they missed the shot, they got the offensive rebound," Davis said. "We couldn't contain them."

The Hoosiers got off to a good start, with Vaden making two 3-pointers before Michigan State took a shot and they led 17-10.

Michigan State made it 19-all with a 9-2 run and later went ahead for the first time with 8:24 left in the first half. The Spartans led 41-39 at halftime.

As much as Izzo prodded Davis and Ager to play like they had during the nonconference season, the players also pushed each other to bounce back.

"It was one of those mutual things," Davis said. "We said, 'We can't let our team go down like this, and we can't let each other go out like this as seniors.'"

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