for this game

Michigan State rallies past BYU

Dec 9, 2007 - 12:40 AM SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ticker) -- Drew Neitzel sparked a big comeback and helped Michigan State extend its winning streak.

Neitzel scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half as the 10th-ranked Spartans rallied for a 68-61 victory over No. 22 Brigham Young on Saturday.

Raymar Morgan also scored 15 points to lead Michigan State (8-1) to its fifth consecutive victory.

Travis Walton iced the victory by hitting six free throws in the final 43 seconds for the Spartans, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half.

"That was big game. In the first half we got totally outplayed," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I am very impressed with BYU. We had a tough stretch of play in the first half, and they went through a tough stretch in the second half. It was two good teams battling it out."

Trent Plaisted scored 17 points to lead BYU, which was playing its third ranked opponent in 15 days.

Goran Suton added 12 points and 13 rebounds and Walton scored 12 for Michigan State, which used a 14-3 opening run in the second half to go ahead, 39-38, with 14:59 to play - its first lead since 2-0.

"The beginning of the second half was a really tough stretch for our team, but we left it all out there on the court," Plaisted said. "Michigan State is a really good team, and they earned their win."

The Cougars (7-2), who managed only seven field goals in the second half, seemed to regain their footing and grabbed a 51-47 lead when Sam Burgess converted a three-point play with 7:50 to go.

Michigan State answered with a 15-5 run, with Neitzel scoring the final five points on a jumper from the free-throw line and a 3-pointer with 2:30 to play that boosted the margin to 62-56.

"What I am real pleased with is how our team battled," Cougars coach Dave Rose said. "We had a lot of opportunities, and they just slipped away. If we could have executed better we could have won this game.

"They came out a lot more physical and aggressive in the second half, and we seemed to play like we were in a hurry."

Burgess had two of BYU's four 3-pointers as the Cougars bolted to an 18-8 lead just over 8 1/2 minutes into the game.

Jonathan Tavernari connected from the arc as BYU's lead crested at 33-19 with 3:23 left in the opening half.

"This was a total team win in a tough atmosphere against a very good team," Neitzel said. "We are happy to walk away with this win. Things weren't going well for us in the first half, and we felt fortunate that we were only down by 10 going into the locker room."

The defense of the Spartans was the difference after the break. Tavernari and Lee Cummard combined for 15 points in the opening 20 minutes but were limited to two points in the second half.

Michigan State also owned a 37-29 edge on the glass, marking just the second time BYU was outrebounded this season.

"They were taking us out of our plays early in the game, so the fact that we were able to do so well on the offensive boards really kept us in the game," Izzo said.