No. 19 Michigan State beats The Citadel 79-65
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State coach Tom Izzo can accept his team taking two steps forward and one back, but not the reverse.
The 19th-ranked Spartans regressed for the final 23 minutes of a 79-65 victory over The Citadel on Wednesday night, needing an outstanding game by Raymar Morgan to avoid a possible upset.
“I feel like I’m on a Stairmaster,” Izzo said. “We’re stepping up and not going anywhere. I’m at a loss for words. We didn’t respect our opponent or the game of basketball.”
Morgan had 26 points and 10 rebounds to help the Spartans (7-2) survive a 3-point barrage. He was 6-for-6 from the field in the first half and 11-for-12 overall.
“Raymar was too much for us all night long,” Bulldogs coach Ed Conroy said. “He was able to find different mismatches and score in a variety of ways.”
But after building a 37-19 lead, Michigan State lacked the intensity it showed in a 118-60 home victory over Alcorn State on Saturday.
“It just wasn’t our night tonight,” Morgan said. “We have a lot of defensive errors to correct. And we didn’t hit the boards the way we should have.”
Chris Allen had 12 points and a career-high seven rebounds for the Spartans, while Durrell Summers added 12 points and Delvon Roe 10.
“Since I wasn’t hitting any shots, I had to do something,” Allen said. “We had three straight turnovers late in the first half. And I knew they had eight offensive rebounds at halftime.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Roe said. “I think we relaxed. We started as well as have all season. Then, everything changed. We just can’t have that.”
Michigan State got four points in 17 minutes from center Goran Suton, who returned from arthroscopic surgery 13 days ago and played for the first time since Nov. 19.
“I felt great,” Suton said. “We’ll see how it is tomorrow. But that doesn’t excuse tonight. We thought it would be an easy win. But The Citadel never quit.”
Austin Dahn had 17 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Bulldogs (5-6), who cut the deficit to 41-33 at halftime and stayed competitive with the Spartans throughout the second half.
“The big story from our standpoint was that we had a hard time getting in the flow at the start of the game,” Conroy said. “Then, we went to a small lineup to ignite our offense and create some matchup problems.”
Michigan State shot 52.9 percent from the field and the Bulldogs 39 percent. The Citadel shot better beyond the arc (10-for-25) than inside the paint.
The Bulldogs also overcame a size disadvantage to grab 15 offensive rebounds and were beaten on the boards just 38-31.
“I was very, very disappointed,” Izzo said. “I felt we’d practiced extremely well lately and didn’t bring that to the show tonight. Give The Citadel credit. They slowed it down and ran the clock. It’ll be a different pace of game on Saturday.”
The Spartans, winners of 38 straight non-conference home games, will play No. 5 Texas on Saturday in Houston. Michigan State has beaten the Longhorns the past two seasons.
“You should have two very mad coaches,” Izzo said. “I saw that Texas struggled against an 0-9 team and was up one at halftime. And our team has to grow up a little bit. We should have a misery-loves-company phone call tonight.”
Texas (9-1) beat winless Texas Southern 88-72 on Tuesday.
“If we play like this in Texas, it’s not going to be pretty,” Allen said. “We’ve got to refocus. We’ve got to get ready. We can’t afford to do this again.”
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