Feb. 24, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Drew Neitzel was unstoppable, overcoming defenders and a cold.
Neitzel scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime to help Michigan State rally for a 66-58 win over Indiana on Saturday night.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo said the junior guard was "sicker than a dog" with flu-like symptoms, but he still played a game-high 39 minutes.
"I didn't know how long he could go, so I rested him a minute," Izzo joked.
The Spartans (21-8, 8-6) have won four straight -- including a nine-point win Tuesday over No. 1 Wisconsin -- to bolster their hopes for a 10th straight trip to the NCAA tournament. They close the regular season on the road against Michigan and the Badgers.
"Michigan State is definitely an NCAA tournament team, the way they're playing," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said.
Freshman Armon Bassett led the Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6) with a career-high 25 points, but didn't get much help. A.J. Ratliff was scoreless after his 10-point first half and D.J. White, held to two points in the first half, finished with nine.
The Hoosiers have lost four of their past six heading into the last week of the regular season with games at Northwestern and against Penn State at home.
"We've just got to bounce back," Sampson said. "We've got a big week coming up."
Indiana led by as much as 12 in the first half, 13 in the second and were ahead 39-28 with 15 1/2 minutes left.
Fourteen straight points gave Michigan State its first lead midway through the second half, and a 14-5 run gave it a double-digit cushion with 3 1/2 minutes left.
"We just have to play smarter and not beat ourselves," Bassett said. "When we got up 13, I felt confident. Maybe we were too comfortable and let up a bit, and Neitzel hit three straight 3s to turn the game around."
Sampson was awed by Neitzel.
"I've never seen a kid that can go almost away from the basket, turn his body and still put a great stroke on the ball," He said. "I bet you every person at Michigan State thought (his shots) were going in. That's a tribute to that kid because he takes amazingly difficult shots, and they go in."
For the first 35 minutes, it looked like Indiana was going to win at Michigan State for the first time since 1991.
The Spartans had so much trouble taking care of the basketball that they had more turnovers (13) than shot attempts (12) with just under five minutes left in the first half. Indiana scored 15 points off turnovers and led 30-20 at halftime.
Michigan State had two turnovers on its first two possessions after halftime for a total of 16, surpassing its average for a game. The Spartans finished with a season-high 23 turnovers.
"I take some blame for that," said Neitzel, who had five of his eight turnovers in the first half. "I was out of sync in the first half, making some bad passes."
But just when the Spartans cut down their turnovers, Indiana had a rough time in its half-court sets and paid for it with 10 of its 16 giveaways coming in the second half.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was gutsy," Izzo said.
Indiana was without guard Earl Calloway (shoulder) for the third straight game.
"Before the game, I thought he'd play," Sampson said. "But he's got to be comfortable and that's a confidence issue to play with that injury. You don't make somebody else's son play if he doesn't think he can."