AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State’s Big Three was spectacular, and the Spartans got back to defending and rebounding.
Maurice Ager scored 21, Paul Davis had 20 and Shannon Brown added 18 to lead No. 14 Michigan State to an 83-64 victory over Wichita State on Saturday night.
“When Shannon and Mo get going, there aren’t a lot of teams that can keep up with us,” Davis said.
Much to the delight of hard-to-please coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans picked up their intensity on defense and the glass. They held Wichita State without a field goal for more than 11 minutes in the first half and had a 33-24 rebounding edge, with Davis leading the way with 11 rebounds.
“We’re making some progress,” Izzo said.
The Spartans (7-2) have won six straight, including two against top-10 teams, since their triple-overtime loss to Gonzaga.
“I don’t know how any team could’ve beaten Michigan State tonight,” Shockers coach Mark Turgeon said.
Wichita State’s Paul Miller scored 21 points, P.J. Couisnard had 12 and Kyle Wilson added 10. The Shockers (7-2) had won four in a row after losing by a point to Illinois on a last-second shot.
“I really didn’t expect this,” Turgeon said. “We expected a close game.
“I felt going into the game that Illinois was a better offensive team, but I don’t feel that way now.”
Michigan State took control with a 13-0 run after trailing early in the game. A 26-2 burst put the Spartans ahead by 16 before Wichita State ended its field-goal drought.
The Spartans led 43-28 at halftime and didn’t let Wichita State get closer than 10 points in the second half.
“We beat a very good team by a lot of points, and we made some mistakes,” Davis said.
After scoring 17 in the first half, Miller had just four in the second. Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel scored all 14 of his points after halftime.
The Shockers led 5-0 after making two of their first three shots before going cold, missing 11 straight shots over 11:20.
The Spartans led by as much as 18 in the first half and 23 in the second.
Michigan State hosted the third annual Spartan Clash at The Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons, and have played just two of nine games on its campus.
“To survive and be 7-2, this is a giant step,” Izzo said.
The Spartans hope to return to the arena in suburban Detroit in March when it hosts first- and second-round NCAA tournament games.
“I could get used to playing here,” Ager said.
Former Lions coach Steve Mariucci, whose best friend is Izzo, attended the game and watched from a suite. When Mariucci was shown on the video board, the crowd cheered for the coach fired Nov. 28 by Lions president Matt Millen.
Some fans held up “Fire Millen” signs and “Fire Mil-len!” chants were heard, just as they’ve been at other venues in Michigan recently.