November 27, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Despite a 23-point victory over Central Florida on Friday night, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wasn't happy with his seventh-ranked Spartans.
"I could sugarcoat it and make everybody feel good, but that isn't my style," Izzo said following an 87-64 victory in the opening round of the Spartan Classic. "I give Central Florida credit for playing a good game and battling back, but I can't help wondering why we aren't pushing the ball up the court better."
The Spartans lost to No. 6 Temple a week ago and will play No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Connecticut next week, but Izzo doesn't want his team looking beyond the tournament.
"Kids are kids, but I don't see this happening to the perennial top 10 programs," he said. "If this is acceptable to them, it isn't acceptable to me. With the number of upsets in college basketball these days, if anybody's looking ahead, they'll get beat."
Jason Klein scored 19 points and Andre Hutson had 18 for the Spartans (3-1). Charlie Bell added 14 and Thomas Kelley 10.
D'Quarius Stewart led Central Florida (1-2) with 12 points.
Central Florida coach Kirk Speraw was more satisfied with his team's performance than Izzo was with his club's performance.
"I was proud of our effort, especially at the start of the second half," Speraw said. "We got some offensive boards and hit a few shots. I thought (Michigan State) would hammer us hard and quick after that, but we held it at 10 points for quite a while. Then their depth and speed finally got to us."
Michigan State led 52-33 at halftime, but Central Florida started the second half with a 15-2 run to cut the Spartans' lead to 54-48 on a jumper by Stewart with 15:10 left.
Michigan State responded with a 20-7 spurt, highlighted by Hutson's six points and four apiece from Bell and Kelley, to boost its lead to 74-55 with just over six minutes left. Many of those baskets came off feeds from Mateen Cleaves.
Cleaves scored only three points, but had nine assists.
"I wasn't feeling that good about my shot, so I tried to get the other guys the ball," Cleaves said.
Michigan State opened the game with a 10-2 run , but a basket by Central Florida's Davin Granberry brought the Golden Knights within a point at 15-14.
The Spartans answered with a 16-0 run, capped by Hutson's three-point play with 8:25 remaining, to open a 31-14 lead.
Michigan's State's biggest lead of the first half was 47-26 after a
second-chance basket by Morris Peterson with 2:15 left in the first half.