Second Half Surge Propels Spartans Past Wolverines
Jan. 27, 2005
By LARRY LAGE
EAST LANSING, Mich. - When Michigan State met at halftime, the Spartans talked about putting away Michigan in the first 5 minutes of the second half.
Maurice Ager scored 18 points and No. 15 Michigan State started the second half strong before coasting to a 64-53 victory over the Wolverines on Thursday night.
"That was huge," Ager said of scoring the first eight points after halftime. "We got a lot of energy out of that. Guys got after it, and got on the floor. You can't help but go on a run."
The Spartans (13-3, 5-1 Big Ten) have won 11 of their last 12, and 11 of 12 against Michigan (12-8, 3-3).
Michigan State plays No. 1 Illinois on Tuesday at home after a nonconference tuneup against Oakland on Saturday.
The Spartans were subdued in the locker room after handling their rival easily because they knew a similar effort against the Fighting Illini would lead to a loss, hurting their Big Ten title hopes.
"That's just kind of a sign of where we are and that we do have a good idea of the big picture," guard Chris Hill said.
Dion Harris and Courtney Sims each had 12 points for the Wolverines, who were without standout point guard Daniel Horton. He was suspended indefinitely after being charged with domestic violence on Monday and without him, Michigan had 23 turnovers against the Spartans' pressure defense.
Harris said the Wolverines missed Horton a lot.
"I think we just broke down - offensively and defensively," said Harris, who had six turnovers. "They pressured me every time I got the ball, they sent new guys at me.
"It's kind of hard when you don't have another veteran guy to bring the ball up."
Michigan State didn't lead until midway through the first half and was ahead by just six points at halftime.
Keyed by their defense, the Spartans built a 52-35 lead midway through the second half.
"Their pressure and depth really wore us down," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I thought the difference was the start of the second half. We got out very slowly, and they got a double-digit lead and really put us on our heels."
The Spartans held Michigan to 40.9 percent shooting, but made just 44 percent of their shots and had 17 turnovers.
"I thought we played very, very good defensively and unfortunately very poorly offensively," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "The turnovers and the poor shooting bother me."
Michigan reserve Chris Hunter, who missed the previous five games with a sprained ankle, had 10 points. Ron Coleman scored eight points in the first half, but just two in the second.
Horton was replaced in the starting lineup by junior Dani Wohl, who made his first career start. Wohl played 11 minutes, all in the first half.
Michigan quieted Michigan State's raucous crowd with 7-0 lead, then was scoreless for more than six minutes and trailed 10-7. The Spartans were ahead by as many as eight points in the first half and led 28-22 at halftime.
Michigan State led 61-43 with 5:08 left before Michigan made the final score respectable.
"We're very disappointed. We didn't come here to just show up," Amaker said. "We came to win. If you look at the way we started the game and hopefully the way we competed throughout the game, that was an indication of a team that competed to win."
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