North Florida routed by No. 5 Michigan St 78-48
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)
North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll took his team's latest loss to a Big Ten school with good humor.
''Obviously, we're on the back end of our Big Ten-A Sun challenge,'' said Driscoll, whose team plays in the Atlantic Sun Conference. ''We're waiting for our gifts that you guys are going to send us from Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State.''
The Ospreys have lost big to all three of those teams this season. The latest defeat was a 78-48 rout against No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday night. North Florida never led and trailed by as many as 37 - but at least Driscoll had a chance to coach against Tom Izzo, someone he looks up to and respects.
''It was an honor and a pleasure,'' Driscoll said. ''Well, I shouldn't say that. It was an honor - it wasn't a pleasure - to come here.''
Adreian Payne scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half for Michigan State. The banged up Spartans were without leading scorer Gary Harris, who has been nursing an ankle injury.
''I actually was pleased by the way we started out - we've had so much adversity here,'' Izzo said. ''It's been really hard on our team.''
The Michigan State coach had plenty of depth he could turn to, especially against an overmatched opponent like North Florida. Branden Dawson added 12 points and Denzel Valentine scored 11 for the Spartans, who were ranked No. 1 in the country before a loss to North Carolina on Dec. 4.
Michigan State (9-1) narrowly avoided an upset against Oakland last weekend before routing North Florida.
Jalen Nesbitt scored 11 points for the Ospreys (5-7).
Michigan State led 50-19 at halftime after shooting 71 percent and holding North Florida to 7 of 32 from the field.
Off the opening tip, Keith Appling tossed an alley-oop pass to Dawson for an immediate 2-0 lead. Appling did not attempt a shot from the field in the first half, but the Michigan State point guard didn't need to with Payne and Dawson both looking sharp.
The Spartans began the game on a 21-4 run and led 40-14 after a jumper by the 6-foot-10 Payne. Dawson added another alley-oop dunk early in the second half to make it 54-21.
''Coach has been telling me to bring my energy every day,'' Dawson said. ''When I do that, I feel a lot better about everything.''
Big man Matt Costello (mononucleosis) and guard Travis Trice (foot blister) also missed the game for Michigan State.
North Florida lost 99-64 to Ohio State and 89-68 to Indiana. This final score was similar to those two. The Ospreys ended up at 4 of 25 from 3-point range after going 1 of 14 in the first half.
Russell Byrd added 10 points for Michigan State, which didn't have a single player log 30 minutes.
Izzo took over the microphone with 2:01 to play so he could announce that official Ed Hightower was working his final game at Michigan State. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.
The Spartans will travel to Texas to face the Longhorns on Saturday.
''I haven't watched any film of Texas, but I know they're athletic,'' Payne said. ''And they're much better than they were last year.''
Izzo said Costello won't even make the trip to Texas. The situation is less clear for Harris and Trice.
''I have no clue - none,'' Izzo said. ''I have no clue. And you know what? I'm done worrying about it, because I've spent about a week now worrying about these different things that I can't control. I'm going to go down there with whatever guys are ready that can play, and then we're going to play.''