for this game

Suton, Morgan help Michigan State hold off upset bid

Nov 25, 2007 - 1:24 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- It was the inside strength of Goran Suton and Michigan State that left Oakland wondering about what could have been.

Suton scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds as the No. 11 Spartans pulled out a 75-71 victory over the Golden Grizzlies on Saturday.

Raymar Morgan posted 20 points and six boards for Michigan State (4-1), which captured its 32nd consecutive home game against an unranked non-conference opponent despite a stiff challenge.

"We're an out of sync basketball team and I don't know when that's going to change," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "You have to give Oakland credit that every time we seemed to get a little lead, they just kept fighting back."

Early on, the Spartans struggled with a lack of aggressiveness, falling behind 25-18 following a layup by Oakland's Derick Nelson with 5:47 remaining in the first half.

However, Michigan State was able to rally before the intermission, reeling off a 15-2 burst to take a 33-27 edge. Drew Neitzel started the spurt with a 3-pointer and freshman Durrell Summers chipped in a pair of baskets.

That advantage grew to 42-35 after the break when Neitzel hit his only other shot from the arc with just over three minutes expired.

Despite that change in momentum, the Golden Grizzlies managed to hang tough, closing within 59-56 on two free throws by Nelson with 7:21 remaining.

The Spartans, who finished with a 41-33 advantage on the boards, flexed their inside muscle on their next possession as they pulled down three offensive rebounds capped by a tip-in by Morgan.

Just over two minutes later, Suton had two rebounds during an offensive possession before making it 63-59 with a jump hook with 4:54 left.

"He did what he had to do," said Oakland coach Greg Kampe about Suton. "He had some huge offensive rebounds with us crawling back in the game and you have to give him credit."

Oakland would get no closer than three points thereafter

"We're upset that we couldn't finish this, very disappointed we couldn't finish," Kampe said. "Michigan State sets the standard for basketball in the state of Michigan and to be able to perform on the same court is an honor."

Suton finished 5-of-14 from the field, grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

It was a interesting contrast from his last outing, where the 6-10 junior was held to just four rebounds and failed to score in a 68-63 loss to No. 1 UCLA on Tuesday.

"Your guess is as good as mine as to how G (Suton) can get 20 rebounds one night and zero the night before," Izzo said.

"It was a different mentality," Suton said. "Just going in there and banging and trying to get every board. I have to think about it in a way where I know I can do it and change my mentality of being aggressive all the time and not taking plays off."

Still recovering from a bout of the flu, Neitzel finished with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting. He did manage to convert on 4-of-6 free throws within the final minute, and ended up with six assists against just one turnover.

"I'm getting better day-by-day," said Neitzel about dealing with his illness. "Hopefully I can turn the corner and be 100 percent by the next game. I felt pretty good on my shots. They weren't short. They were long on the ones I was missing so that's a good sign."

Brandon Cassise scored 20 points and Nelson added 19 for the Golden Grizzlies (2-3), who shot just 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) on 3-pointers.

Johnathon Jones added 10 points and seven assists for Oakland, which has lost all seven career meetings with Michigan State.