Dec. 4, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - At this point, Tom Izzo can forgive a few careless turnovers.
As his team slogs through a brutal early schedule, the Michigan State coach is well aware of how much fatigue the sixth-ranked Spartans are fighting. So although they were far from perfect in a 74-39 win over Bowling Green on Saturday, Izzo was willing to overlook their problems.
"I might be the dumbest scheduler in America," Izzo said. "My team is tired."
Fresh off a five-point loss at Duke on Wednesday, the Spartans (6-2) didn't look sharp early against Bowling Green. They turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, and when the Falcons (1-7) scored the first four points of the second, Michigan State clinged to a 25-23 lead.
Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious responded with back-to-back 3-pointers and Draymond Green added a putback to push Michigan State's lead into double digits. Keith Appling then added two 3-pointers, Summers made another and Lucious scored from inside the arc for a 46-24 advantage.
Just like that, a close game had become a blowout, and the Spartans could start looking ahead to their next big task - a trip to New York to play No. 8 Syracuse on Tuesday night.
In addition to the Duke game, Michigan State also traveled to Hawaii for a tournament that included a loss to Connecticut and a win over Washington last month.
On Saturday, the Spartans withstood a scoreless game from guard Kalin Lucas, who attempted only one shot in 15 minutes after entering the game as the team's leading scorer. Lucas tore his Achilles' tendon last season.
"The poor guy, he's drained," Izzo said. "He asked not to play the second half. His foot was a little sore, but that wasn't the problem."
Summers scored 14 points to lead Michigan State, and Appling added 11. Green and Delvon Roe finished with 10 apiece, and Green also had 12 rebounds.
"The first half we were flat - super flat," Green said. "We also cut down on turnovers - a little bit - in the second half."
Scott Thomas scored 11 points for Bowling Green, which shot 27 percent from the field but was still very much in the game before Michigan State's 21-1 run early in the second half.
"If the game was 21 minutes long, I could say, 'We lost, but we gave a great effort,"' Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said. "You've got to keep doing what you're doing for 40 minutes to give yourself a chance."
Bowling Green has now played in the state of Michigan five times already this season, and the Falcons haven't won any of those games. They'll return Feb. 12 to play at Central Michigan.
Izzo has bemoaned his team's carelessness with the ball in the early going this season, and the Spartans finished with 21 turnovers against Bowling Green. But one thing the Spartans are doing well is shooting from 3-point range. They entered the game at 43.2 percent and then went 12 of 28.
Under Izzo, Michigan State's best 3-point percentage for a season is 40.1 percent by the 2003-04 team.
All four of Summers' field goals Saturday were from 3-point range, with Izzo encouraging him to look for his shot.
"He just felt like I wasn't ready to shoot. I took that as a knock on myself," Summers said. "We didn't come out with a lot of energy. In the second half, we came out and got a couple buckets."
Appling went 3 of 5 on 3-pointers, and Green and Lucious added two apiece.
Michigan State's big run came shortly after football coach Mark Dantonio and a few of his players showed off their Big Ten championship trophy at halftime.
"I was hoping to maybe stay out there for a little bit of it," Izzo said. "But we had our own problems."