Spartans Take Down Florida State in Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 65-49
The Spartans have won five straight games.
Nov. 30, 2011
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Head Coach Tom Izzo Press Conference
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State earned a smash-mouth victory that made its coach smile.
Keith Appling scored a career-high 24 points and matched a personal best with seven rebounds to help the Spartans beat Florida State 65-49 Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Michigan State held the Seminoles to 39 percent shooting and its starting guards - Appling and Brandon Wood - combined to grab 17 rebounds.
"We're going to get this back where it belongs," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "And where it belongs is guys gritting their teeth and getting after it."
The Spartans (5-2) have won five straight after opening the season with losses to North Carolina on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and against Duke in New York.
"This game was definitely big," Appling said. "Coach has been preaching that all week, especially after we laid goose eggs in our first two games."
The Seminoles (5-3) were in The Associated Press poll last week before losing to Connecticut and Harvard. They've lost three straight since winning their first five games.
"This is kind of what we need," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I have no doubt we're going to be a better basketball team for going through this. We're still an inexperienced team, but I do feel we'll be a very good basketball team before the year is done. I'm not discouraged."
Wood had 16 points, a season-high 10 rebounds and a season-high five assists for Michigan State. Draymond Green added 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting and had eight rebounds.
Bernard James had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Seminoles and Michael Snaer scored 11.
Florida State looked much more athletic in the opening minutes, but seemed to get tired playing its fourth game in seven days.
"They wore down a little bit," Izzo said.
Michigan State had a 12-point lead late in the first half, but was ahead just 30-26 at halftime.
After the Seminoles went ahead 40-39 - their only lead in the second half - Wood's dunk with 10:44 left in the game put the Spartans ahead for good and they built a double-digit lead late in the game.
"At that point, we turned the ball over three times and they got about four offensive rebounds and extended the lead," Hamilton said. "It was very difficult to come back."
James said the Seminoles aren't working together on the court.
"We're all separate," he said. "We've got to get our minds right. It's all mental, one mistake after another."
Fans at the Breslin Center turned their attention to the Big Ten's championship football game by chanting, "Beat Wis-con-sin! Beat Wis-con-sin!" late in the game.
The Spartans will play the Badgers on Saturday night for a spot in the Rose Bowl.
A fired-up crowd was eerily quiet midway through the first quarter after a Michigan State cheerleader, Taylor Young, fell on her face during a performance.
The 20-year-old junior from Twin Lake, Mich., was raised into the air and fell hard onto the court during a timeout. Dr. Jeff Kovan, the basketball team's physician, was among the medical personnel who evaluated the cheerleader. She was slowly strapped to a backboard and her head was immobilized.
The cheerleader smiled and stuck both thumbs up when the crowd cheered after she was lifted onto a stretcher.
''She's OK," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said.