Dec. 9, 2006
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Drew Neitzel played well enough that he only needed one break, a few days off in a busy schedule.
In his team's 11th game in 32 days, Neitzel scored 22 points and had seven assists to lead Michigan State past Brigham Young 76-61 on Saturday.
The 6-foot junior guard hit three 3-point shots, played 38 minutes without a turnover and contributed on defense in the annual Spartan Clash at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"That's something I was really concentrating on today," Neitzel said of his error-free ballhandling. "I'd been having a lot more turnovers than I should. But part of that was not having any time off. I'm really looking forward to the break this week, even with exams."
Marquise Gray had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State (9-2). Goran Suton added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Travis Walton also had seven assists and was among four other Spartans with at least six points.
"I don't usually say this, but I can't wait till finals," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I didn't feel we were sharp in any aspect of the game. But if we shoot that way at the free-throw line (11-for-23) and win, I should feel pretty good about it."
Trent Plaisted had a career-high 23 points and Lee Cummard 10 for the Cougars (5-3). But Keena Young, who came in averaging 17.1 points, got in foul trouble early and scored just four against a surprising defense that hasn't allowed more than 65 points in a game.
"I think their size and athleticism was a factor," Brigham Young coach Dave Rose said. "K.Y. had a couple of quick fouls. They were real physical with him. And maybe his aggression level wasn't what it had been."
The Spartans led 36-30 at halftime and soon built their lead to double digits. They shot 55.6 percent from the field in the last 20 minutes. Neitzel had 13 points after the break.
Michigan State had edges of 41-34 in rebounds and 21-12 in assists.
"They were really good at hitting open shots," Rose said. "We thought we could take their strengths away and make them go to their second and third options. But we got burned a lot. They were very good at running their stuff and getting whatever they wanted."
The bad news for the Spartans was another injury. Wing Maurice Joseph injured his right foot on a 3 from the right corner late in the first half. Freshman Isaiah Dahlman stepped in and played 31 strong minutes, contributing nine points and three assists.
Though he's scheduled to have an MRI exam, Joseph insisted that he could have played if necessary. Michigan State was already playing without freshman starter Raymar Morgan, who is recovering from a stress reaction is his right shin.
"Our guards didn't play as well today," Izzo said. "And I think some of that was not being able to sub at all with the injury to Joseph. But finding a way to win is the mark of a good team. So I think we took a step in the right direction in that respect."