March 5, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State's seniors sealed their home careers with a kiss and sent the Spartans rolling into the postseason.
Five seniors played their final home game for the Spartans. When coach Tom Izzo ceremoniously pulled them in the final minutes, each player got down on their hands and knees to kiss the Spartan 'S' at midcourt.
Then they looked ahead to tournament time. The senior class does not have a Big Ten title to its credit, and its best showing in the NCAAs was a run to the Elite Eight in 2003.
"We came here to win a championship, and we're not done yet," Anderson said.
Senior Kelvin Torbert concluded his time in East Lansing with 11 points for the Spartans (22-5, 13-3 Big Ten).
Michigan State will be the No. 2 seed and have a first-round bye in next week's Big Ten tournament. The Spartans have won eight of their last nine games to enter the postseason on a roll.
The only loss in that stretch was in overtime at Indiana on Feb. 27.
"Now it's one-and-done time," Izzo said. "It gets tougher. I'm interested to see how we'll respond."
The Spartans have extra motivation. Despite a 13-3 conference record, they still finished a distant second to No. 1 and unbeaten Illinois in the Big Ten race.
"We'll enjoy this for another three hours," Hill said. "Then we'll refocus and figure out what we have to do to build on this."
Ben Luber and Mike Walker each scored 12 for Penn State (7-22, 1-15). Danny Morrissey had 11 and Travis Parker added 10.
Penn State, the Big Ten's last-place team, lost its 11th straight game and will play in a first-round game Thursday.
Michigan State started slow against Penn State's zone defense, but used an 11-0 run late in the first half to take a 34-30 lead. The Spartans led 39-35 at halftime.
A 16-2 run to start the second half, keyed by seven points from Hill, sealed the win. Michigan State led by 20 points midway through the second half and led by more than 30 late.
Michigan State shot 50 percent from the floor overall and 50 percent from 3-point range. Penn State shot 44.7 percent, but just 36 percent in the second half.
The Spartans dominated the boards, outrebounding the Lions 37-28. Anderson had 10 rebounds. Aaron Johnson had 10 rebounds for Penn State.
Michigan State also was helped by 23 Penn State turnovers, including 13 in the second half.
"There's no defense for turning the ball over in the backcourt," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "That's something that has haunted us all year. Michigan State is very, very good in transition, so you can't give them easy transitions."
The Spartans had 28 assists on 36 field goals, which impressed Izzo.
"The unselfishness we showed was great," Izzo said. "I guess everyone gets a gold star tonight."
Hill had six assists and no turnovers. The Spartans had 13 turnovers overall and did a good job protecting the ball in the second half.
The victory continued Michigan State's dominance over Penn State. The Spartans lead the all-time series 22-3 and are 14-0 against the Lions in East Lansing.
Three members of the senior class -- Anderson, Hill and Torbert -- have scored more than 1,000 points in their career.
It's the only senior class in school history to feature three 1,000-point scorers. Junior Paul Davis is also a member of the 1,000-point club.
Associated Press Writer