for this game

Suton, Michigan St. continue roll over non-conference foes

Dec 30, 2006 - 10:45 PM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Goran Suton used a career effort to shake off a pesky Loyola of Maryland squad.

Suton scored 18 of his career-high 27 points in the second half as No. 25 Michigan State continued its mastery of non-conference opponents at home with a 74-61 victory over Loyola.

Winning for the seventh straight time, the Spartans (13-2) claimed their 26th consecutive victory at the Breslin Center against a non-conference foe. Michigan State also recorded a school-record 13th win over a non-league opponent this season.

Despite the successful early-season run, Spartans coach Tom Izzo was clearly looking for something other than just wins.

"Well, in a way, I guess I'm glad that the non-conference schedule is over," he said. "It's been difficult the last four or five games. As a team you hope to be growing towards the Big Ten season but I don't think we've done a great job of that. It is a game of many different parts and aspects."

That record did not appear as if it would be established late in the first half, as the Greyhounds held a 34-31 edge after a 3-pointer by Gerald Brown with 1:38 remaining before the break.

Suton, who finished 10-of-16 from the field, completed a three-point play with 13 seconds left and Isaiah Dahlman added a layup off a turnover eight ticks later as the Spartans ended the opening 20 minutes with a 5-0 run to pull ahead, 36-34.

Michigan State continued the momentum after intermission, going on a 12-4 spurt to pull ahead, 48-38, with 15:01 to play. Suton had six points during the burst.

"In the first half, I was kind of casual so in the second half I came out aggressive and looked for the ball more and went for the boards," Suton said. "I think that made my game a lot better. Consistency is the one thing I've struggled with and I'm trying to put more emphasis on consistent."

Although Loyola answered back with four free throws by Brown, Michigan State continued to roll, extending the lead to 61-44 on a pair of free throws by Drew Neitzel with 10:24 left.

Marquise Gray had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Neitzel scored 10 and tied a career high with 12 assists for the Spartans, who finished with 21 assists on 26 field goals.

"It's harder to get assists than you think because guys have to finish on the other end," Neitzel said. "It's not like rebounds where it's an individual. It takes a team effort to get an assist so those big guys helped me out a lot by finishing inside and it worked out well today."

Prior to Saturday, Neitzel had been sizzling from the field, scoring 21.5 points and shooting 43 percent (23-of-53) on 3-pointers. He went 3-of-9 from the floor vs. Loyola, including 2-of-7 from the arc.

"I think it is a positive that we can win a game without Drew Neitzel having one of his better games shooting the ball in a while, and I think that's a plus for us because I have faith that he will shoot it well most of the time," Izzo said.

Brown had 16 of his 25 points in the first half for the Greyhounds (5-6), who lost for the fourth time in five games.

It was the second straight defeat against a Big Ten team for Loyola, which absorbed a 66-60 loss at Northwestern on Wednesday.

"I don't think playing two meaningless games at Christmas time in front of nobody helps," Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos said. "So (athletic director) Joe Boylan and I decided to come to the Big Ten and take a tour.

"This was the real part of the trip in terms of the history of playing basketball and Tom Izzo is one of the greatest coaches. My kids will never forget this. What a crowd, what a place. I'm real honored to be here."

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    LOYOLA MD 34 27 61
    MICHIGAN ST (25) 36 38 74 FINAL

    Dec 30 2:14 PM

    LOYOLA MD 34

    Dec 30 12:57 PM