Spartans Down Pepperdine in Pearl Harbor Classic Opener
LAIE, Hawaii - If Mateen Cleaves scores more, it could be all over for Michigan State's opponents.
That's the alarm Tulsa coach Bill Self sounded Tuesday after the No. 15 Spartans beat the Hurricanes 68-58 in the semifinals of the Pearl Harbor Classic.
"Cleaves is the key to their team," Self said after the junior point guard scored 15 points and had seven assists. "He can dominate a game and not score."
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo would like nothing better than to see Cleaves put up more points.
"I told Mateen to look for his shots more, even if he misses," Izzo said. "He's starting to look better."
Having Cleaves put the ball in play is already effective, but with him hitting the outside shots, the Spartans (8-3) would be doubly effective because it would open the inside game, Izzo said.
"We'd like to get the ball inside to (Andre) Hutson and (Antonio) Smith. To be good, we need to get them more touches."
But despite having one of the best point guards in the country, Izzo is still looking for a backup.
"We're missing another ballhandling guard," he said, noting Cleaves' eight turnovers. "That's a problem for us. We had too many turnovers."
Offensively, Morris Peterson provided a pair of scoring bursts that helped the Spartans take care of the Hurricanes (10-2).
He scored 11 points during a 15-4 run as the Spartans led 25-10 midway through the opening period. Then, with Tulsa closing in late in the second half, Peterson accounted for eight points in a four-minute span to help seal the victory.
Keeping Tulsa's Michael Ruffin away from the ball also helped the Spartans.
"We didn't want to allow Ruffin too many touches," Izzo said. "That was the key. All in all, it was a good win for us against a good basketball team."
The Hurricanes, who scored 84 points against Texas Tech on Monday night, got 15 points apiece from Eric Coley and Tony Heard. However, the Spartans held them to only 16-for-44 (36 percent) shooting as a team, including 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) in the second half.
Tulsa was 19-for-31 from the foul line over the final 20 minutes. Michigan State, meanwhile, made 21 of 23 over the same span.
"We had too many unforced turnovers early," Self said. "The mark of a good team is not making turnovers and hitting free throws late."
By GORDON SAKAMOTO
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