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Suton comes up big again as Michigan State tops N.C. State

Nov 29, 2007 - 5:08 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Goran Suton continued to distance himself from a poor effort against UCLA.

Suton scored all 16 of his points in the first half as No. 13 Michigan State used a dominant first half to roll to an 81-58 victory over North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.

Drew Neitzel added 17 points for the Spartans (5-1), who remained the only Big Ten squad to have success in the annual showdown. Overall, they improved to 5-3 in the event, marking the only winning record in their conference.

"We knew this was a huge game, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge," Neitzel said. "It was a lot of fun out there on national TV. We wanted to get back to our brand (of play). We were fortunate to hit some shots early on and our defense stifled them early. That was the key to the win tonight, our defense."

Despite Michigan State's effort, the Atlantic Coast Conference once again dominated the event, winning seven of the 10 games.

"We played for our school and the league and that's what is nice about the Big Ten/ACC Challenge," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I pull for everybody in the league. I was hoping we could all win games, but we haven't fared as well.

"The ACC deserves what they've gotten and I'm proud that we've held our own most of the time. It is something I take pride in, but at the same time a lot of it comes out in the matchups and different things. I just try to win games."

The 6-10 Suton played a vital role in that latest victory as he continued to assert himself as a force inside.

"Goran has been looking much better in practice and it showed tonight," Izzo said. "The biggest thing with him is he has to keep it going."

That was not the case in Michigan State's showdown with No. 1 UCLA on November 20. The junior finished scoreless with only four rebounds in 20 minutes of the 68-63 loss in the CBE Classic.

However, Suton rebounded with a career-high 20 rebounds to go along with 15 points in a 75-71 win over Oakland on Saturday, and was nearly as good against the Wolfpack.

Connecting on eight of his first 10 shots, Suton helped the Spartans pull ahead, 22-7, with just under eight minutes left in the first half and build up a 41-16 cushion at the break.

"I got some easy points, Drew (Neitzel) with a drop-off pass and Travis (Walton) finding me in transition," Suton said. "I got some easy baskets by being aggressive and in the right place at the right time."

A native of Bosnia, Suton also hit the boards once again, finishing with 12 as Michigan State ended up with a 42-31 advantage on the boards.

Raymar Morgan continued the onslaught in the second half, scoring 11 of his 15 points after the break. His layup with just under 13 minutes remaining made it 62-32.

"We ran into a team who was clicking tonight, and they are capable of doing that," North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe said. "We got so far behind that we couldn't make shots early in the ballgame. They ran it back at us and they played a good game."

Freshman J.J. Hickson scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for North Carolina State (4-2), which shot 35.4 percent (17-of-48), including 4-of-17 from the 3-point arc.

Farnold Degand chipped in 11 points for the Wolfpack, who were facing their second straight ranked opponent and playing their fourth game in seven days.

"I think that's possible, I don't want to take anything away from our opponents," Lowe said about a possible hangover after winning the Old Spice Classic over the weekend. "They did what they were supposed to do. I think they saw that we were tired and they took it to us - but we don't want to make excuses."