Nov. 28, 2007
By TIM MARTIN
Associated Press Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State got its latest win just the way coach Tom Izzo likes: tough defense and good execution on offense.
The 10th-ranked Spartans rolled past No. 24 North Carolina State 81-58 on Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Michigan State committed only 10 turnovers and hassled the tired Wolfpack into shooting just 35 percent from the field.
"The difference in the game was turnovers and defense," Izzo said. "That's the way it should be. It helps you score points and helps you get the job done."
Goran Suton had 16 points - all in the first half - and 12 rebounds for Michigan State. The Spartans (5-1) have won 30 straight nonconference home games at Breslin Center, extending what was the nation's sixth-longest active streak entering the game.
J.J. Hickson had 21 points and 10 rebounds for N.C. State (4-2).
Michigan State led by as many as 32 points in the second half before the Wolfpack rallied late to make the final score closer.
"The difference in the game was turnovers and defense."
Coach Tom Izzo
Michigan State entered this year's annual conference competition as the only regularly participating Big Ten team with a winning record, which now stands at 5-3. The ACC has won the overall series every year since its debut in 1999.
N.C. State is 5-4 in the event.
Farnold Degand had 11 points for N.C. State.
Suton scored several key baskets as the Spartans built a 22-7 lead midway through the first half. N.C. State was dominated on the boards and made only two of 15 shots during that stretch.
Michigan State, sparked by Suton, led 41-19 at halftime.
"I wanted to go hard and be the aggressor," said Suton, who has been somewhat inconsistent in his career but has performed well the past two games. "We can be better than this. But we were pretty good in the first half."
N.C. State shot 21.7 percent from the field in the first half, while Michigan State shot 51.4 percent.
N.C. State last week fought its way to the Old Spice Classic title, edging Villanova in the championship game to rejoin the Top 25. And the Wolfpack looked tired Wednesday, especially early.
"We ran into a team that was clicking tonight," N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said. "They did what they were supposed to do. They saw we may have been a little tired and they took it to us.
"We don't want to make any excuses," Lowe said. "I'd rather give them credit."
Said Izzo: "In fairness to North Carolina State, I think they got tired."
The Wolfpack got within 20 points with about 5 minutes remaining, but N.C. State couldn't get any closer against a Michigan State team that appeared focused for a highly anticipated game in front of its home fans.
Izzo said there was no real reason for the switch, other than that the Spartans are still tinkering with combinations and breaking in their young players.
"It wasn't necessarily a promotion or demotion," Izzo said. "I thought Travis did a great job and I thought Kalin bounced back."