Saturday, December 08, 2007

Spartans Travel Well, Knock Off BYU

Michigan State 68 BYU 61

In one of the most widely-anticipated matchups of the early college hoops season, the #9 Michigan State Spartans traveled out to Provo, Utah, to take on the 20th-ranked Brigham Young Cougars.

BYU stormed out to a 35-25 edge at the half, but Michigan State rallied on a 14-3 run to open the second half for a brief 39-38 lead. The teams exchanged baskets and leads thereafter, while BYU's Junior swingman Lee Cummard, who averages 14.8 points per game, was saddled with 4 fouls and sat out most of the second half.

Michigan State's Drew Neitzel scored seven straight points late, including a 3-pointer with 2:27 remaining to give the Spartans a 82-56 lead which proved to be insurmountable for the Cougars.

Fouls and foul-shooting played a critical role down the stretch, as the Spartans piled up personals, putting BYU in the bonus with 7 minutes left and into the double bonus at the 3:42 mark, while the Cougars committed only 4 fouls through the first 19 minutes of the second half but were forced to foul the Spartans repeatedly down the stretch as their shots would not fall and Michigan kept their lead at the foul line, as Travis Walton hit all six of his attempts from the stripe in the final minute.

Neitzel finished with 15 points as did teammate Raymar Morgan. BYU's Trent Plaisted led all scorers with 17.

The Spartans are 8-1, their only loss a thin 68-63 defeat at UCLA. BYU dropped to 7-2.

Indiana 70 Kentucky 51

Indiana positively pounded the Kentucky Wildcats in the annual border war in Bloomington, as D. J. White dropped in 16 points and hauled down 13 rebounds for his 5th straight double-double. The Hoosiers completely dominated the scoring and the boards, even without starting guard Eric Gordon, who was averaging 24.2 points per outing this season. Freshman Jordan Crawford led the Hoosiers and all scorers with 20 points.

Indiana improved to 8-1 and looks like one of the favorites in the Big 10. Kentucky dropped to 4-3, and is has not shot the ball well in most of their outings this season. They hit only 19 of 49 (39%) against Indiana, and have only cracked the 50% plateau twice, in blowout wins over pushovers Liberty and Texas Southern.

Coach Billy Gillispie will find the going tough once Kentucky enters SEC play in mid-January.

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