Feb. 1, 2000
By HARRY ATKINS
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State was favored to win, and did. Still, the Spartans never figured they'd get an assist from the NCAA.
Michigan State won its fourth straight as Morris Peterson had 32 points and 10 rebounds in the eighth-ranked Spartans' 82-62 victory over Michigan on Tuesday night.
The Spartans were simply bigger, faster and stronger than the predominately freshman Michigan lineup. But it also helped that the Wolverines were forced to play without freshman Jamal Crawford, their leading scorer.
Crawford, averaging 16.6 points per game, was told about 25 minutes before tipoff the NCAA was investigating his living arrangements before enrolling at Michigan.
Crawford reportedly lived the past three years with a man who was not his legal guardian.
"No doubt it was a strange game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It was an unfortunate thing that happened to Crawford. I give Brian (Ellerbe) and his team a lot of credit.
"That's a tough situation 20 minutes before game time that your best player's out. They did a hell of a job in that situation."
Mateen Cleaves, playing his eighth game since recovering from a broken foot, had 19 points and six assists for the Spartans (16-5, 7-1 Big Ten). Andre Hutson added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the two-time defending Big Ten champions.
It was the third straight loss for the Wolverines (12-6, 3-4), who got 16 points from freshman LaVell Blanchard.
Would they have done better with Crawford in the lineup?
"That's an understatement," Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. "To find out that we're without Jamal 25 minutes before the game, that's a little bit tough to take.
"He was very disappointed. Here's a kid who lives for the big moment, and
that big moment was taken away from him."
This was trademark rough and tumble Big Ten basketball with plenty of bumping, flying bodies and floor burns as the Wolverines tried to hold off the more mature Spartans who are hoping to repeat last season's NCAA tournament Final Four appearance.
"They're a lot better team than I thought they were," Michigan's Brandon Smith said. "Seeing them on TV doesn't do them justice. They're seasoned veterans, and it showed."
Consecutive 3-pointers by Cleaves, Peterson and A.J. Granger helped Michigan State open a 19-8 lead midway through the first half. But Smith had six points in a 10-0 run as the Wolverines closed the gap to 19-18.
Another 3-pointer by Cleaves gave Michigan State a 37-27 lead with 3:14 left in the half, but the Spartans, turning the ball over three times, made only one free throw the rest of the way for a 38-32 halftime lead.
Peterson, with two 3-pointers, scored eight points to help Michigan State open the second half with a 12-2 run for a 52-34 lead with 14:30 remaining.
"That run to start the second half killed us," Smith said.
Michigan closed to 52-41 on a three-point play by Chris Young with 11:28 left, but the Spartans - getting five from Cleaves - responded with an 8-0 burst for a 60-41 lead with 9:21 to play. Hutson's basket inside gave Michigan State a 66-47 lead with 7:00 remaining.
Peterson's 3-pointer with 1:57 left made it 80-60 and the Spartans, who outrebounded Michigan 39-29, called timeout to clear the bench.
It was sweet revenge for Peterson.
"I can recall coming here as a freshman and sophomore and we took the knocks," Peterson said. "All you can do is get back up."
Crawford was on the court at Crisler Arena about an hour before the 7 p.m. tipoff for a casual shootaround. But he was missing when the teams came out about 20 minutes before the game for warmups.
When the Wolverines took the court just before tipoff, Crawford wore a warmup suit, his trademark headband, and street shoes.
The school "must declare any athlete ineligible when there is a question of potential NCAA rules violation," Michigan said in a release. "Tonight, the NCAA reinstatement committee called to inform the Michigan Athletic Department that they were not going to reach a decision in regards to this question. The case is still under review by the NCAA."