Spartans Rally Back To Down Rival Michigan, 72-69
Feb 24, 2004
By LARRY LAGE
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Three Michigan State juniors moved one step closer to creating a legacy of their own.
Hill scored 19 points, Torbert had 18 and Anderson added 11 to lead Michigan State to a 72-69 comeback victory over Michigan on Tuesday night.
The Spartans (16-9, 11-3 Big Ten) trailed by 12 midway through the second half before rallying to win their fourth straight -- and eighth of nine -- to stay atop the conference, a game ahead of Illinois.
If Michigan State wins Saturday at Penn State and Tuesday at home against Wisconsin, it will earn at least a share of the Big Ten title for the fifth time in seven years.
"Hopefully, this is a turning point for us as juniors," Torbert said. "There's a sense of urgency because we've never been in this position before. We have to take advantage of it."
Sophomore Paul Davis complemented the juniors with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Courtney Sims scored a career-high 19 points and had nine rebounds for the Wolverines (15-9, 6-7), whose chances of making the NCAA tournament took a hit. Michigan fell into an seventh-place tie with Indiana.
"It was a really big loss for us," Graham Brown said. "Especially, because we lost to our rival again."
Michigan State beat the Wolverines for the 10th time in 11 meetings.
Michigan's Bernard Robinson had 15 points and six assists. Daniel Horton scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and the point guard made only one assist.
"It was an outstanding game, a game that was a gut-wrenching loss for us," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
"It is obvious when you are playing an outstanding team that no lead is safe."
Michigan led by as much as 10 in the first half and 52-40 midway through the second before the Spartans started their comeback with eight straight points.
"We could not stop them," Amaker said.
Torbert scored 12 of Michigan State's 15 points and Davis dunked a putback to tie the game at 57 with six minutes left.
Anderson's layup put the Spartans ahead 63-61 -- for the first time since they led 8-6 -- with 3:24 to go.
Michigan went seven minutes without a field goal until Dion Harris made a layup with 1:11 left to pull the Wolverines within two.
After Hill and Harris traded 3-pointers in the final minute, Torbert and Hill sealed the win with four free throws.
"It seemed like we had the game in the bag," Sims said. "We weren't thinking that way, but it seemed like we had control of the game and we let it slip through our fingers."
The Spartans took on one of the toughest nonconference schedules in college basketball history and lost all six of their high-profile matchups.
They dropped to 5-7 with a loss at Wisconsin in their Big Ten opener.
Since then, Michigan State has won 11 of 13 games and Izzo has grown proud of his championship-less class of juniors.
"When you're not done with the season, you've always got to watch what you say," Izzo said, fighting back tears. "But I told them, it wasn't a small step, but a giant step."
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