Dec. 5, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - Tom Izzo was relieved his Michigan State team escaped with a 66-60 victory over George Mason on Sunday in the consolation game of the BB&T Classic.
"I'll be honest with you, it was a hard game to play in for us," said the coach of the 11th-ranked Spartans, who snapped a two-game losing streak. "I think we had looked forward to hopefully getting a shot at Maryland in the championship game. When you come to a tournament like this as a ranked team, you don't want to play in the consolation game.
"I don't look at our lack of beating them by more than that as the end of the world. Number one I give credit to them and number two I understand how hard it is to play in a consolation game."
"We kind of put it on Alan to be there on the boards and he had a couple of big tip-ins," Izzo said.
"Our mindset needs to be defensive rebounding," Anderson added. "If we stick to that it can take us a long way."
Lamar Butler led the Patriots (3-3) with 19 points, while Jai Lewis added 12 points and eight rebounds.
George Mason was facing a ranked opponent for the second consecutive game and the third time this season, both firsts in school history. The Patriots lost 78-54 to No. 12 Maryland in the opening round at the MCI Center.
"The next time we probably play a team of that national caliber it would be in the NCAA tournament," George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said. "That's ultimately our goal."
Butler scored 11 of the first 15 points in the second half for the Patriots, who trailed by nine points with 14:58 to go.
Lewis' inside basket with 9:26 left got George Mason within 51-49, but Lewis missed the free throw to convert a three-point play. John Vaughn's fast-break basket cut the Spartans' lead to 56-55 with 4:59 remaining.
Davis and Anderson scored to make it 62-57 before Vaughn converted a 3 from the left corner with 23 seconds left, pulling the Patriots within four points.
"We should've put them away early," Davis said. "I think we were up by 15. Against athletic, quick teams like this in a tournament like this, we have to put teams away when we get up on top. It was the story of last year and it's starting to come back."
The Patriots closed the first half on a 11-2 run to get within 35-30.
Michigan State lost at Duke earlier in the week.