No. 13 Michigan State loses to Miami 67-59

The Michigan State Spartans have battled early season injuries,
and Wednesday night’s loss was part of the healing process.

With two players back from recent ailments, coach Tom Izzo
wrestled with how to alter his substitution pattern, and the
13th-ranked Spartans lost 67-59 to Miami.

”That was a hard game to coach,” Izzo said. ”I didn’t know
how to approach it, and I probably didn’t do a great job. It’s
going to get better once we get our rotation down. I still like
where I think we’ve got a chance to go, but I sure don’t like it
right now.”

Gary Harris returned from a shoulder sprain and scored 12 points
in 25 minutes. Travis Trice was back from a concussion and had nine
points in 12 minutes.

Even so, the Spartans’ offense sputtered, and their point total
was a season low.

”It’s going to heal because we’re going to get healthy,” Izzo
said. ”There were bright spots with those two guys back.”

Keith Appling had 15 points for the Spartans (5-2), who lost for
the first time since the season opener against Connecticut.

Senior Trey McKinney Jones scored a career-high 18 points for
the Hurricanes (4-1), who held Michigan State without a field goal
for a pivotal 5 1/2-minute stretch in the second half. McKinney
Jones went 5 for 7 from 3-point range, including a basket that
capped a 14-2 run to start the second half that put them ahead
41-33.

The lead grew to 57-45, and they went 8 for 8 from the free
throw line over the final 2:11 to seal the victory.

Miami held the ball in the final seconds to run out the clock,
and students then stormed the court, hoisting at least one player
and the team mascot onto their shoulders and chanting, ”A-C-C.”
The game was part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

”I was thinking, `This is what college basketball is all
about,”’ coach Jim Larranaga said. ”In fact, what I was really
thinking was, `This is what being a college student is all about.’
Your greatest memories don’t come in the classroom. They come at
events like this that you’ll remember years down the road.”

The Hurricanes’ second-year coach has worked hard to boost
attendance, dispatching his players to dormitories to distribute
pizza and chicken wings.

But Larranaga knows winning is the best way to create a
bandwagon.

”This was November’s highlight,” he said. ”Now we need to get
some December highlights.”

The Spartans cut down on their turnovers – they had 12 after
totaling 20 in each of the past two games – but they still
struggled with their half-court offense. They stayed in the game
only because they had 16 offensive rebounds.

”We’ve got to get a get a couple of guys playing harder, and
we’ve got to get a couple of guys playing better,” Izzo said.

The Spartans trailed 48-42 with 10 minutes left, then went
without a basket until Branden Dawson scored to cut the deficit to
57-47 with 4:55 left.

Shane Larkin and Durand Scott scored 15 points apiece for the
Hurricanes, who went 9 for 16 from 3-point range and had only nine
turnovers. Reggie Johnson had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Harris had 12 points for Michigan State and Dawson added 11.

Scott penetrated easily at the outset and scored nine
consecutive points to help Miami take the lead. Trice and Harris
hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give the Spartans
their biggest lead, 28-23, and they were up 31-27 at halftime.

”We took a few punches from Michigan State,” Larranaga said.
”We needed to fight back, and we did.”

McKinney Jones hit from 3-point range for a 51-42 Miami lead,
and made another 3 to beat the shot clock and make it 55-45.

”Every one of my 3s came from a pass,” he said. ”My teammates
were just finding me in the right spot.”

Scott’s two free throws gave the Hurricanes their biggest lead
at 57-45, and thereafter Michigan State got no closer than eight
points.

”It’s not the highlight of our season,” Johnson said. ”It was
a heck of a game, but we have to continue to get better.”