December 30, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - North Carolina-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach was happier in defeat than Michigan State's Tom Izzo was with a 25-point victory.
"It was a very uninspired and disappointing performance," Izzo said Wednesday after the 13th-ranked Spartans beat UNC-Asheville 64-39. "We were hoping to end the 1998 portion of our schedule on a good note but we didn't. "We didn't do any of the things we worked on the last three days in practice. If we don't change it by Saturday, there will be a massacre."
The Spartans host Louisville Saturday. Jason Klein snapped out of a mild scoring slump to lead a balanced Michigan State scoring attack with 12 points. Andre Huston scored 11 points and Morris Peterson and Thomas Kelley came off the bench to add 10 apiece for the Spartans (10-3), who have won their last five games. UNC-Asheville's Kevin Martin led all scorers with 21 points, but he couldn't keep the Bulldogs (1-10) from dropping their eighth straight game.
"I thought we played better than the spread of the final score," Biedenbach said. "I think we'll do OK in our league. The Big South doesn't measure up to the Big Ten."
This was only the third time UNC Asheville has faced a Big Ten opponent and the Bulldogs have lost all three games by a margin of at least 25 points. UNC Asheville trailed 11-8 after a 3-point goal by Mike Matthews, but a basket by Kelley triggered a 12-2 run by the Spartans that gave them a 23-10 advantage with about seven minutes left in the first half.
Another basket by Kelley after a missed free throw by Doug Davis in the closing seconds of the first half gave Michigan State a 30-17 halftime lead. Michigan State started slowly in the second half and didn't score until 2:25 into the second half, but Klein got the Spartans going again with a jump shot, followed by a 3-pointer that gave Michigan State a 35-19 edge with 15:50 left. Klein had averaged only 6.3 points in his previous three games.
"I think this game might have been a turning point for me," said Klein, who hit 5-of-8 shots from the field. "When you're in a slump, you just have to shoot out of it. You have to get reps (repetitions). You can do that in the shootaround. It doesn't have to happen in a game."
The Spartans had their biggest lead of the game, 61-34, with 4 1/2 minutes left after a basket by Kelley capped an 11-1 run. This was the first time Michigan State, which beat Illinois-Chicago 77-33 in its last home game, has held consecutive home opponents under 40 points since Jan. 5 and 7, 1946.