Nov. 27, 2004
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Tom Izzo wasn't happy with a 50-point win, a sure sign the road is about to get rougher for his Spartans.
Michigan State's third straight 100-point game came in a 102-52 win over Nicholls State on Saturday. But Izzo's 10th-ranked team will see where it really stands after a visit to No. 9 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday and a possible meeting with No. 13 Maryland in a tournament in Washington D.C. next weekend.
"I guess teams go through this all over the country when they play this kind of schedule," Izzo said of a season that has included a 104-72 win over Florida A&M and a 104-46 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay. "Games go like this one did, and that's why I'm not an advocate of a schedule this easy.
"It has given us a false sense of security that, thank God, will end on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday."
Michigan State (3-0) had every reason to feel secure about the outcome against the Colonels (0-3), as Maurice Ager scored 19 points to lead five Spartans in double figures. Kelvin Torbert added 16 points, Shannon Brown and Alan Anderson had 15 apiece and Paul Davis had 11 for a team that has averaged 103.3 points per game.
"The main thing we've learned is that we can't let up," Ager said. "Today, we were playing a smaller team and could pound the ball inside. Against Duke, we'll have to be almost perfect if we want to prove we've grown, that we're not the same team as last year."
The Blue Devils beat Michigan State 72-50 last season, a loss that stayed with the Spartans for weeks. Now the idea is to forget the past and concentrate on a new opportunity.
"We're playing on the biggest stage there is this Tuesday on ESPN," Davis said. "But we can't make this bigger than it is. We can't worry about where the game is or who's watching. It'll be two great teams going after each other."
Michigan State used a 17-2 start against Nicholls State and a 20-2 run near the end of the first half to lead 48-16 at halftime. The Spartans led by at least 32 points at halftime for the third straight game.
The only question in the second half was whether Michigan State would match its start in 1963-64, when it had more than 100 points against Northern Michigan, Western Michigan and Bowling Green.
"We've played great offensively but had some lapses on defense," Torbert said after the Spartans had a 52-29 edge in rebounds. "We're a lot different team than last year. This is our chance to show that, to show how much we've grown as a group and as matured as individuals."
Stefan Blaszczynski scored 15 points and Shawn King had 12 for the smaller Colonels (0-3), who won't dress anyone taller than 6-foot-6 after 6-9 post players Kieran Gleeson and Maurice Veal were declared academically ineligible.
"We told our kids it's an honor and a privilege to play in this environment," Nicholls State coach J.P. Piper said. "We were out in the snow last night looking at the statue of Magic Johnson. If you're a basketball fan, it's a great experience.
"The 40 minutes that just took place were not necessarily a great experience."
The game marked the 100th straight sellout in Breslin Center and Tom Izzo's 300th as Michigan State coach (210-90).