Nov. 19, 2004
By TIM MARTIN
Associated Press Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says he has six starters, but only five of them can be on the court on at the same time.
That sixth man, guard Kelvin Torbert, scored 21 points as the No. 13 Spartans beat Florida A&M 104-72 in the season opener for both teams Friday.
Torbert led six Michigan State players in double figures. He did his offensive damage in just 24 minutes, making 8 of 10 shots from the floor, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
"If this was hockey, I would give K.T. my No. 1 star," Izzo said. "I loved the way he came in and I loved the energy he brought. For K.T. to step up like that tells you what kind of kid he is."
Torbert, a senior, has been a starter for most of his Michigan State career. But the Spartans' depth on the perimeter likely will lead to a six-starter rotation for Michigan State, at least early in the season.
"It's something different, but it paid off tonight," Torbert said. "I just have to live with it. As long as you're out there playing, you've got to be glad about it."
The Spartans have won 28 consecutive season openers, including all 10 under Izzo.
Torbert's teammates praised him for accepting his role.
"That just shows how much character he has, to come off the bench like that," Ager said.
Tony Tate had 19 points for Florida A&M, and Glen Elliott added 12. Jason Thomas had 10 points.
Michigan State opened with a 16-2 scoring spurt in the first five minutes and cruised to a 60-27 halftime lead. The Spartans made 19 of 27 shots in the first half.
"I'd like to thank you all for sticking around," Florida A&M coach Mike Gillespie Sr. told media after the game. "I would have left at halftime. But we did win the second half."
Michigan State was 35-of-64 (55 percent) for the game. The Spartans had 25 assists and moved the ball well against the Rattlers.
"You can be something special if you are that unselfish," Izzo said of the Spartans' teamwork. "That was impressive."
Spartan players said they fed off each others' unselfishness.
"We have guys who will pass up good shots to get great shots," Torbert said. "That's big for us to move the ball like that."
Florida A&M struggled with Michigan State's man-to-man defense and shot 36 percent.
The Spartans outrebounded the Rattlers, 47-41. Delco Rowley led Michigan State with 12 rebounds.
Michigan State has not lost its first game of the season since 1976, a 81-76 loss at Central Michigan.