LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)—After the rain finished pounding the roof, the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans began pounding the boards.
MSU dominated inside to beat Wichita State 65-57 Sunday at the Old Spice Classic that was delayed 44 minutes by strong winds that blew heavy rain through a roof vent and onto the court.
Marquis Gray scored 12 points to lead the 4-1 Spartans, whose dominant 42-24 rebounding edge overcame 18-of-31 free throw shooting.
Clevin Hannah had 19 points for the 3-3 Shockers.
When the game was stopped seven minutes into the first half, the Shockers held a 7-6 edge on the boards. Delvon Roe’s 11 boards led a Spartan assault that had more offensive rebounds (19) than the Shockers had defensive boards (16).
“We were really paranoid about rebounding,” said MSU coach Tom Izzo. “We did a heck of a job.”
“They’re hard to shake, hard to establish position on,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said.
Roe, whose playing time has been limited by microfracture surgery on both knees in the last year, had nine points in 19 minutes.
WSU’s leading rebounder, Ramon Clemente, had three boards. He’d been averaging 11.
“That’s not going to cut it,” Clemente said. “Once you think you have a person pinned, another comes flying in.”
Told that the Spartans were without their top rebounder, injured Goran Sutan, Clemente said, “That’s crazy. I can’t even imagine that.”
MSU bounced back after a first-round upset by Maryland to win two straight. The Spartans, highest ranked in the eight-team field, went on a 22-8 run midway through the second half to take a 50-39 lead. Hannah hit a pair of 3s and two free throws but the Shockers couldn’t draw any closer than five down the stretch.
The Spartans also had a huge advantage from the free throw line. The Spartans were 18-of-31 while the Shockers made 12 of 13.
Izzo called the free throw shooting “mind-boggling.”
“We’ll shoot seven hundred million free throws tomorrow,” Izzo said. “I’m going to stop at Disney on the way home, see if my dream of hitting 80 (percent) can come true.”
Spartans star Raymar Morgan, who did not start against Oklahoma State in the second-round game because of concerns about early foul trouble, was in the lineup Sunday against Wichita State but struggled. He missed his only two shots in the first half.
Morgan, hit his first shot, a layup with just under four minutes gone in the second half to tie the score at 31-31.
With Morgan scoring four of their next six points, the Spartans continued their run and pulled ahead to stay. He finished with nine points.
The game got off to a sloppy start, with teams combining for 10 turnovers and 7-of-21 shooting in the first eight minutes. MSU clung to a 9-7 lead when the game was delayed.
When play resumed, WSU’s shooting picked up and the Shockers took a 26-18 lead on three-straight 3s, two by backup J.T. Durley. The Shockers led 26-22 at halftime.
The game was a tuneup for the Spartans, who will play No. 1 North Carolina on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Detroit.
“Are we ready for them? I don’t think there are four or five teams in the country ready for them,” Izzo said.