Nov. 21, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Drew Neitzel didn't play a perfect game. It only seemed that way.
The 6-foot junior guard was 7-for-8 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 26 points in Michigan State's 66-46 win over Vermont on Tuesday night.
Neitzel, whose driving layup beat Texas last Thursday in New York, drilled four 3s in five tries in the first half against the Catamounts, then added three more 3s after the break.
"When your first few shots go in, your confidence goes way up," Neitzel said. "You think every shot is sure to go in. But my teammates did good job of getting me the ball and setting picks."
Neitzel finished 9-for-13 from the field and also paced the Spartans (5-1) with a career-high eight rebounds and four assists -- not bad for a player Coach Tom Izzo said "could sit on a nickel and swing his legs."
"I don't know if I ever had eight rebounds in a high school game," Neitzel said. "Coach was emphasizing long rebounds by the guards. And that's what we gave him tonight."
Michigan State also gave Izzo plenty of things to stress at practice, especially with a casual effort in an even second half.
"It's tough to win a game like that and not feel really good about it," Izzo said. "But I really don't. I feel frustrated. Our sense of urgency is lacking right now. And we're going to try to find it."
Vermont (2-3) couldn't find the basket, especially from long range. The Catamounts were 2-for-13 on 3-point tries and shot 32.6 percent from the field.
The visitors were led by Joe Trapani with 21 points and by Chris Holm with nine rebounds but looked nothing like the team that won at Boston College by 14 points.
"We struggled to get any production inside," Vermont coach Mike Lonergan said. "And I don't think anyone on our team hit a jump shot past 15 feet, except for Trapani. Against Boston College, we hit some 3s."
After a sluggish start by both teams, Neitzel caught fire and helped the Spartans build a 39-19 lead at halftime, including a 15-0 edge beyond the arc.
"It was a great performance by Drew," Izzo said. "Our guards did a better job of rebounding than our bigs. But he had one of the best performances in a while if you also look at defense and rebounding."
Michigan State freshman Raymar Morgan had 10 points and stretched his school-record string of double-figure games at the beginning of a career to six.
"We started the second half with a bang and made three baskets in a row," Izzo said of a 26-point lead, the largest of the game. "Then, I think we showed our immaturity and inexperience. That's not going to cut it."
The Spartans made the cut of solid basketball teams in Lonergan's eyes, playing solid defense and shooting 53.3 percent from long range.
"We've played a very difficult schedule," Lonergan said. "I think Michigan State is obviously the best rebounding team we've faced. They have great chemistry. Their size really hurt us. And Neitzel had a great game."