Dec. 19, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Tom Izzo liked what he saw in Michigan State's 10th straight win. He'd still like to see some improvement before next week's Big Ten opener.
"The best thing for me was the unselfishness of this team," Izzo said after the No. 19 Spartans beat UMKC 89-54 on Monday night. "We had a lot of inside-out passes. There are no black holes on this team."
Branden Dawson got off to a great start in the first few minutes and scored a career-high 16 points to lead No. 19 Michigan State past UMKC 89-54 on Monday night.
Dawson had eight quick points and finished 8 for 12 from the field for the Spartans (10-2)
"We're finally seeing Branden Dawson emerge a little bit," Izzo said. "He knocked a few balls loose and got out on the break a little bit. But we thought he'd be a Jason Richardson-type rebounder from the wing. Right now, he can't carry Richardson's bags."
Brandon Wood also had 16 points, including 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range, as Michigan State grabbed a 16-2 lead and never led by fewer than 10 points again.
"We have big men who can score, so when we feed the ball into them, teams tend to collapse, so that leaves open shots for us on the perimeter," Wood said. "That's one thing we've been working on, getting the ball inside more."
Trinity Hall scored 16 points and Kirk Korver 11 for the Kangaroos (7-6), who had won six of seven after a 46-point loss at Wisconsin.
"That game really helped us," UMKC coach Matt Brown said. "In our league, we're not going to see teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, and our ultimate goal is to win the league."
Michigan State led 21-7 midway through the first half, with Dawson having one more point than the UMKC roster.
The highlight of the game, a Green-to-Dawson alley-oop dunk, reflected the Spartans' obvious edge in size and athleticism.
"I've had a smile on my face the last two games," Dawson said. "I'm just playing my game and having fun. My teammates and coach told me to bring a lot of energy to this team. They've just been telling me to bring passion and energy on the defensive end."
Michigan State had clear advantages in most aspects of play and shot 61 percent from the field to UMKC's 38 percent.
The Spartans shot 57 percent beyond the arc, compared to 29 percent for the Kangaroos, and had 25 assists on 35 baskets, including eight by Keith Appling.
"Keith doesn't get enough credit because his stats aren't off the wall,"Izzo said."He did it on both ends, knocked some balls lose and played incredible defense on a guy I'm telling you is a great player."
Izzo was talking about UMKC's Reggie Chamberlain, who was 0 for 5 from the field and failed to score.
The Big Ten's top rebounding team also led 37-27 in that department, despite getting just nine offensive boards.
Though it was 0 for 4 at the foul line in the first half, Michigan State had a 40-20 lead and quickly expanded the margin to 30, and then 43.
The Spartans' only scare came when center Derrick Nix hurt his left ankle with 15:52 left and was helped from the court to the training room. But the crowd roared when he walked back to the bench a few minutes later.
Michigan State's biggest problem again came at the foul line, where it missed 11 of 22, including Green's two tries after a technical foul on the UMKC bench.
"I'd see us rebound and shoot free throws better,"Izzo said."When you're sing balls get knocked loose and turn into layups for the other team, that's not Michigan State basketball."
The Spartans host Lehigh on Thursday night before opening conference play against unbeaten Indiana on Dec. 28.