for this game

Neitzel's outside shooting helps Michigan State over Minnesota

Jan 21, 2008 - 1:12 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Slumping from the arc for most of the year, Drew Neitzel helped Michigan State get its first conference road win of the season.

Neitzel scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and had a season-high five 3-pointers as No. 11 Michigan State defeated Big Ten rival Minnesota, 78-73, on Sunday.

The senior Neitzel, who had led the Spartans in scoring at 18.1 last season, had gone just 5-of-16 from the arc in his last two games.

But the diminutive guard, who came into the game netting 13.2 points per game, made 5-of-8 from distance in this one to help the Spartans pull it out.

"(Drew) is starting to make some shots," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "In the last few games, he hadn't been shooting the ball very well. We need him to pick it up in order to succeed."

Michigan State (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) trailed by two early in the second half before Neitzel gave the Spartans the lead for good, 41-40, on a shot from the arc with 14:01 remaining.

The Spartans later created some breathing room for themselves with a 10-2 run that included Neitzel's fifth 3-pointer of the half, giving Michigan State its largest lead of the game at 65-55 with 4:50 to play.

"Neitzel is an excellent shooter," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "He's tough to guard. We lost him in transition and some inbound plays. We definitely made some defensive mistakes. In the game, they had 16 or 17 uncontested shots and you can't win like that."

Minnesota (12-5, 2-3) never got closer than five down the stretch as Michigan State made its last 11 free throws in the final 2 1/2 minutes.

Freshman Kalin Lucas had 12 points - 10 in the first half - and Goran Suton added 11 and 13 rebounds for the Spartans, who beat the Golden Gophers for the eighth time in their last nine meetings.

"(Lucas) brings energy to the team," Izzo said. "He is a solid defender and he isn't intimidated by anyone. He is a great player and I only see him becoming better."

Neither team had a lead bigger than five in the first half, but Michigan State scored the final six points before intermission to take a 31-27 advantage at the break.

Lawrence McKenzie scored all 20 of his points in the second half to lead Minnesota, which lost its second straight game, denying Smith career win No. 400.

"We had our chances," Smith said. "We have to learn to create offense. We have guys who can score but we have to attack the rim and get a foul instead of avoiding contact."