Dec. 6, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Tom Izzo stepped to the microphone and for the fifth time this season said a Michigan State opponent was much better than it had played.
That also might say something about the Spartans (8-2), who used a balanced attack and stunning defense to beat Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne 80-43 on Wednesday night.
"We came in thinking we had a shot," Mastodons coach Dane Fife said. "And we were certainly wrong. That was just a tremendous job by (Michigan State). Everybody thought they'd be a little down, And I've got to be honest. I did, too."
With Morgan sidelined for two to four weeks by a stress reaction in his right shin, Izzo said other players had to improve, especially on defense.
The result was 14.3-percent shooting from the field in the second half for IPFW (3-6). Starting guards Jakari Johnson and Chris Perkins were held to a combined two points with 1-for-12 accuracy.
"I guess that says as much about us as it does about them," Neitzel said. "They looked pretty good in some other games. So you have to give us some credit for taking away what they wanted to do."
At least eight Spartans had to feel good about their performances. And that didn't include Izzo, who found a lot of good but more than enough bad to keep conducting practice.
"I asked Dane after the game what happened to his team," Izzo said. "I've seen them play a lot better. But maybe our strength and our defense was the key."
Michigan State's offense was almost as good. The Spartans shot 50.9 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from long range.
Neitzel and Joseph each had four 3-point baskets. Gray was 6-for-9 from the field and had eight rebounds off the bench.
Tyler Best scored 12 points and Jaraun Burrows 10 for the Mastodons, who shot 26.5 percent for the game.
Michigan State shot 55.6 percent in a 39-24 first half. The Spartans tightened up their defense after the break and pulled away with 41-19 dominance in the last 20 minutes.
"I don't want to compare them to last year's team, but they're just significantly tougher than I thought they would be. As a team they are just so much tougher."
Michigan State had edges of 45-25 in rebounds and 22-11 in assists to improve to 7-0 at home this year.