Dec. 16, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Drew Neitzel scored 21 of his career-high 32 points in the final 14:42 of the game after being benched at halftime.
His sluggish teammates failed to respond the same way, but Michigan State nevertheless escaped with a 69-61 win over Chicago State on Saturday night.
The Spartans, sixth in the nation in rebounding, were dominated 16-8 on the offensive boards. That lack of effort and a season-high 21 turnovers made Michigan State coach Tom Izzo react on principle.
"I'll put up with a lot of stuff," Izzo said after a second-half surge saved the Spartans (10-2). "But the effort-related things, I'm not going to put up with. If that means we lose a game, then saddle up and get ready for the talk shows and the papers to say a lot of nasty things because we're going to lose a game."
Neitzel never lost his composure, was 6-for-12 from 3-point range and went 10-for-10 at the foul line against the scrappy Cougars (4-9), who had their own issues at halftime.
"Coach just wasn't happy," Neitzel said despite his team's 61.1-percent accuracy from the field in a 31-23 first half. "He's the boss. He calls the shots. Any time you don't start, you're (unhappy). But I just tried to do whatever it took to win the game."
Chicago State coach Kevin Jones said he was physically challenged by guard Cam-Ron Clay at halftime and wouldn't have him back on the team. Jones wanted school officials to find alternate transportation home for Clay, whom he said should join the military if he wanted a battle.
"He has a problem with constructive criticism," Jones said. "He (swore) and wanted to fight. I'm a former Marine. But I don't want him on the bus going home. My young son will be on that bus."
Jones' kid-sized backcourt of 5-foot-8 Royce Parran and 5-7 David Holston played like giant-killers. Parran scored 20 points and Holston added 18. Kourtney Calvin had 12 points and nine rebounds, including six on offensive in a game that saw both coaches slapped with technicals.
"This is the Big Ten," Jones said. "It's a physical conference. We've played against some ACC and Big 12 teams, and they didn't call those touch fouls. I guess the Big Ten is a little different."
Spartans freshman Isaiah Dahlman had 11 points, connecting on drives and all five of his free throws in his first career start. Marquise Gray added eight points, including two rim-rattling dunks, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
"Coach was just trying to make a point at halftime," Dahlman said after filling in for injured wings Raymar Morgan and Maurice Joseph. "But it was different with (Neitzel and Travis Walton) on the bench. We gave it all we had. And that wasn't much. This game feels like a loss, really."
When Izzo started walk-ons Brandon Darnton, a former student assistant, and DeMarcus Ducre at guard in the second half, the Cougars responded and would have led 33-32 if they had made two free throws with 16:07 left.
A technical foul on Jones for protesting the lack of a five-second call helped the Spartans hit four straight free throws with 14:42 to play. Two missed dunks kept Chicago State from turning a scare into a significant lead.
An alley-oop slam by the soaring Parran put the Cougars up 44-43. But Neitzel quickly answered with a short jumper, a 3 from the wing and assists on Goran Suton's first two baskets for an eight-point lead. Michigan State's margin of discomfort was only 65-61 with :40 left.