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Neitzel powers Michigan St over Michigan

Jan 27, 2008 - 10:12 PM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Michigan State used a familiar game plan to wear down Michigan - efficient halfcourt offense combined with stifling defense.

Drew Neitzel scored 18 points and handed out seven assists Sunday as the 10th-ranked Spartans methodically pulled away for a 77-62 victory over the Wolverines in a Big Ten Conference contest.

"Whenever Drew's hitting shots, it's great for us," said Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan, who scored 13 points. "It's only a plus."

The Spartans and Wolverines are at opposite ends of the Big Ten spectrum.

Michigan State (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) has matched the best 20-game start in school history, set in 1996-97, when the Spartans made their third straight trip to the Four Four.

Michigan (5-15, 1-7) has its worst record through 20 games since 1981-92, when the Wolverines also started 5-15.

"I was reeling impressed with Michigan State today," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Their defense was very, very good. In the second half, they way they ran their offense - the speed and intensity the way they run their plays - it's something that's very hard to duplicate in the scouting sessions."

After making just 32 percent of his shots in Michigan State's first four conference games, Neitzel is shooting 56 percent (20-of-36) in the Spartans' last three games - all wins.

The senior guard was 7-of-13 on Sunday, including 4-of-10 from the arc as Michigan State hammered the Wolverines, who are struggling through a difficult season under first-year coach John Beilein.

Kalin Lucas also scored 18 points off the for the Spartans, who have won four in a row since their sluggish 43-36 loss at Iowa.

"I thought Kalin Lucas and of course Drew Neitzel are starting to come along," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought in the second half our offensive execution was very good."

Michigan had been better of late and played Wisconsin tough - a 64-61 defeat on Tuesday - in its last contest.

But the Wolverines did not have the weapons to stay with the physical Spartans. Michigan experienced a pair of scoring droughts in excess of five minutes in the first half, including one at the start of the game.

After Michigan State scored the game's first eight points, Michigan answered the Spartans' early knockout attempt, taking a 19-14 lead on Zach Gibson's layup with 9:34 left.

But Michigan State ended the half with a 21-3 spurt, then slowly broke open the contest in the second half en route to a comfortable victory.

Manny Harris an Anthony Wright paced Michigan with 11 points apiece.

Michigan State shot 58 percent (31-of-53) from the field while holding Michigan to 35 percent (23-of-65). In the second half, the Spartans had few empty possessions, shooting 73 percent (16-of-22).

"I think we're getting better," Morgan said. "Guys are getting more comfortable with each other. We're settling and down and we are maturing."

Michigan State twice led by as many as 20 points in the final three minutes.

Michigan stayed in the game by making 6-of-13 3-pointers in the first half. In the second half, however, the Wolverines were just 2-of-18 from beyond the arc.

    --- --- -----
    MICHIGAN 27 35 62
    MICHIGAN ST (10) 35 42 77 FINAL

    Jan 27 3:09 PM


    Jan 27 1:55 PM
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