for this game

Lucas, Michigan State improve shooting, topple Ohio State

Jan 16, 2008 - 5:04 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Although its leading scorer was saddled by fouls, Michigan State was still able to improve on its previous offensive effort.

Kalin Lucas and Drew Neitzel scored 13 points apiece as the 11th-ranked Spartans overcame an up-and-down effort to post a 66-60 victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten Conference on Tuesday.

Drew Naymick added 11 points for Michigan State (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which rebounded from a disappointing 43-36 loss at Iowa on Saturday.

"It was a good gut check tonight after one of the most disappointing losses we've had here," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

In that previous game, the Spartans shot just 31 percent (16-of-52) and mustered no more than 18 points in either half.

While Michigan State was able to improve its production in those areas, it had to do it without much help from leading scorer Raymar Morgan, who was limited to just six points as he was hampered by four fouls.

"It was a tale of two parts but it was a big win with us - especially with Raymar's situation and a quality team that (Ohio State coach Thad Matta) has, they're going to win a lot of games," Izzo said.

After racing out to a quick start that included a 32-11 lead with less than four minutes left in the first half, the Spartans experienced some more woes shooting the ball.

Michigan State went without a field goal for nearly five minutes spanning halftime, enabling Ohio State to slice its deficit to three points at 37-34 with 3 1/2 minutes expired in the second half.

"We finished the first half on a 10-2 run and we had more energy," Matta said. "It was let's just chip away, chip away at the lead and try to get in position at the end to have a shot to win."

The Spartans were able to find their range again thanks to Lucas, who had eight points over the next eight minutes for a 53-45 lead with 8:48 to play.

The freshman guard connected on his biggest basket with his team holding a four-point lead with just under 9 1/2 minutes left, tracking down a long rebound and knocking down his second 3-pointers of the game after taking a pass from Neitzel.

Morgan, who entered the contest averaging 17.6 points, had a three-point play with just over three minutes left for a 62-53 advantage. The sophomore forward finished 2-of-8 from the field in having a streak of 20 consecutive games scoring in double figures snapped.

The Buckeyes (12-5, 3-2) could get no closer than five points thereafter although they did have their chances.

Jamar Butler got a good look from 3-point range with 64 seconds left and Ohio State down six points, but his shot hit the front of the rim and Michigan State's Travis Walton got the rebound and was fouled.

"We started out strong and we were up by 20," Neitzel said. "We just have to put the game away, but you have to give Ohio State credit because they kept battling but we are happy to get back to feeling good about ourselves. But we know we can play better but a win is a win."

Butler paced the Buckeyes with 21 points, shooting 3-of-7 from long range, and seven assists.

The Spartans rediscovered their offensive touch at the start of the contest thanks to Neitzel, who connected on three of his first five shots en route to seven points. The senior guard went 4-of-14 from the field against Iowa.

"Coming in here, this is a great environment and a tough place to play," Matta said. "We knew they were going to come out with a great deal of fire and they got us early."

Lucas, who had averaged 15.6 points in a five-game stretch before going 0-for-8 in a scoreless effort at Iowa, hit his first 3-pointer of the game for a 23-5 lead with 8:06 left.

"We came out at Iowa and we were kind of sluggish," Lucas said. "In this game we came out with a lot of intensity and played with a lot of energy."

Although that cushion grew to 21 points on a jumper by Naymick, Michigan State went on to miss eight straight attempts from the field. It id not get its next basket until a minutes into the second half on a 3-pointer by Neitzel that made it 37-25.

The Buckeyes then went on a 9-0 run, with four points from Othello Hunter, to close within three.

Hunter and David Lighty scored eight points apiece for Ohio State, which dropped its second straight league contest following a 75-68 loss at Purdue on Saturday.