Dec. 18, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State's top three players outrebounded and nearly outscored Florida International on Sunday.
"What Maurice and Shannon did was special," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "And the passing was unselfish with 21 assists out of 27 shots. All in all, we had a lot of positives."
Brown led all scorers with 20 points, went 5-for-7 from 3-point range and added four assists for the Spartans (9-2). But he couldn't stop talking about Ager's play.
"Whew, Mo was something, wasn't he?" Brown said. "We put a lot of emphasis on guard rebounds lately, and he really crashed the boards. And that dunk he had on the lob was just crazy."
Ager had 18 points, all but two in the second half, and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, four times his season average. His soaring slam on a pass from Travis Walton was Michigan State's highlight play of the season.
Davis, one of just two players in Division I averaging better than 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, added 18 points and 11 boards.
"We've got three or four guys who can handle the scoring and others who can come in and rebound and defend," Davis said. "We've got everything covered. And when we're clicking on all cylinders, we're out having fun with dunks and scoring a lot of points."
Izzo joked that he taught Ager the dunk of the day, though Ager said his coach would be lucky to touch the net. And Davis tried to take credit for that play, too, after putting the credit for the win where it belonged.
"I think Coach kind of challenged him and a few of the other guys," Davis said. "But I really think Mo could do that every game if he wanted to. It's all about the effort."
It was an effort for Florida International (3-5) to get any open looks inside 20 feet. The Golden Panthers were 11-for-22 from 3-point range but scored only seven baskets inside the arc.
"Man, listen, I don't know if it's our gym or what, but everyone wants to hit the 3 against us," Brown said. "We've got to defend that better. I'm not sure if that line is in the right place."
Elvis Lora had 12 points and Facundo Giorgi added 11 for Florida International. But the Golden Panthers got just 10 minutes and one rebound from Ivan Almonte, who came in averaging 13.1 boards, second-best in Division I. Almonte sprained his right ankle in the first half.
"When you lose that kind of player at our level and you're playing a team of this caliber, it's hard to keep going," Florida International coach Sergio Rouco said. "The beauty is that they came out with a little fire in the second half."
Michigan State used a 25-3 run to take a 44-19 halftime lead. Davis had 16 points and eight rebounds in the game's first 15 minutes.
The Spartans built a 35-point lead early in the second half and outrebounded Florida International 51-26.
Drew Neitzel added 11 points and five assists for the Spartans. Neitzel was 3-for-4 from 3-point range for Michigan State, which shot 64.5 percent on 3s and hit 84.6 percent of its free throws.