Spartans Protect Home Court Against Wolverines, 90-71
Brown, Ager, Davis key balanced MSU attack.
Feb. 18, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State returned to its home court Saturday and got back in the Big Ten race.
Shannon Brown scored 26 points to lead No. 16 Michigan State past Michigan, 90-71. The win -- coupled with an Iowa loss at Minnesota -- leaves the Spartans one game behind four other conference teams in the loss column.
Michigan State (19-7, 7-5 Big Ten) is now a perfect 11-0 at home, including 5-0 in the conference. Three of its final four regular-season games are at home as it chases leaders Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak -- both on the road -- for the Spartans.
"It sures feel good to be home," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I can't tell you how much that helped some of our players."
Daniel Horton led Michigan (17-7, 7-6) with 19 points. Courtney Sims and Graham Brown each had 15 for the injury-riddled Wolverines.
Michigan took a 13-5 lead early but struggled to overcome the loss of forward Chris Hunter, who played only the first 2 minutes and left with a knee injury.
Michigan was already without forward Lester Abram, who has missed several games with ankle and toe injuries.
Michigan State shot 55 percent from the field. Ager, in particular, broke out of a recent shooting slump, making two 3-pointers to cap a 15-6 run that gave the Spartans a 57-41 lead.
Brown had several highlight-reel dunks and layups to pump up the home crowd.
"We always felt we were a national championship-contending team," Brown said. "And when we're hitting on all four cylinders, it's tough."
Michigan State has won 13 of the last 15 meetings against its instate rival, including eight straight at home. Michigan has not won in East Lansing or pulled off a season sweep of the Spartans since 1997.
Michigan beat the Spartans 72-67 in Ann Arbor in their first meeting this season.
This time, Michigan State outrebounded Michigan 35 to 25 and Brown, Ager and Neitzel dominated on the outside.
"They were charged. They were ready," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said of the Spartans. "It was role-reversal from the previous game."
Michigan is seeking to make the NCAA field for the first time since 1998 and trying to stay in the Big Ten race. Amaker was keeping the faith after the disappointing showing against the Spartans.
"We're still in the thick of things," he said. "I'm confident we're going to be fine."
The intense game featured some trash-talking and 41 personal fouls. Michigan's Brent Petway and Michigan State's Marquise Gray were charged with technical fouls after a shoving match in the second half.
"All of it wasn't trash talk or bad talk," Horton said. "That's part of basketball. Guys are going to say things."