Michigan St. routs Ark.-Pine Bluff
Michigan State struggled with its shooting and taking care of the ball early, overshadowing its strong start on defense for coach Tom Izzo.
The 19th-ranked Spartans held Arkansas-Pine Bluff scoreless for almost the first 10 minutes of the game and went on to a 76-44 victory Wednesday night.
”Missing good shots and turning the ball over kind of made me not appreciate our defense,” Izzo said.
Garry Harris scored 13 points, Travis Trice had 12 and Branden Dawson added 10 to help the Spartans (7-2) win for the seventh time in eight games.
Michigan State started the game with a 14-0 run, led 38-12 at halftime and kept a comfortable lead in the second half.
Izzo, though, wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of energy and enthusiasm.
”I need somebody to show some emotion,” he said. ”If it’s not what they want to do, this is not the right place for them.”
The Golden Lions (1-7) missed their first 13 shots and didn’t score until 9:48 into the game.
”They came out with a lot of intensity and it changed up what we tried on offense,” coach George Ivory said. ”We got some shots, we just didn’t make them. But a lot of it had to do with the pressure Michigan State was putting on us.”
Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s DaVon Haynes, who is from Detroit, scored a season-high 20 points, all after halftime.
Haynes might have been too fired up to play back in Michigan. He had three fouls in an 18-second stretch and watched the last 17:49 of the first half from the bench.
”When he got in foul trouble in the first half, it really hurt us,” Ivory said.
The Golden Lions had seven points over the last 2:20 of the first half to finish with 12, the fifth-lowest total at halftime by a Division I team this season, according to STATS LLC.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference team was competitive, for at least a half, in its previous two losses to Oregon and Arizona State. It trailed the Ducks 37-30 at halftime and lost by 21 and was behind the Sun Devils by two in the first half before losing by 13.
Ivory, who has also faced No. 17 San Diego State, said Michigan State has a great team.
”They’re one of the best we’ve played this year,” he said.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s road-weary players might simply be tired of traveling all over the country. The Golden Lions haven’t had a home game in Pine Bluff, Ark., and won’t until Jan. 2, against Mississippi Valley State.
”We’ve kind of gotten used to it,” Ivory said. ”I don’t think we’ve played a home game the last five years in the nonconference.”
Michigan State, meanwhile, played at the Breslin Center for the sixth time in seven games since starting the season with a loss to Connecticut in Germany and a win over Kansas in Atlanta, and won its 69th straight home game against an unranked nonconference team.
The Spartans will play their next two games in East Lansing.
”If we play as sloppy as we did, we’re going to get punched right in the mouth,” Izzo said.
The Spartans were not sharp offensively early against an overmatched team. They missed nine of their first 10 shots, including all five of their early 3-point attempts, and had some of their 19 turnovers.
Michigan State made 14 of their next 20 shots to build a 26-point halftime lead.
Izzo kept pushing his team even ahead by 30 points in the second half. After Haynes made an uncontested dunk, Izzo called a timeout with 8:29 left in the game to scream at center Derrick Nix about playing soft defense.
”Coach wasn’t happy at all,” Trice said. ”We weren’t, either. We were disappointed in ourselves. That’s not the way we play. You can’t relax like that. We’ve got bigger things to play for.”
The Spartans got a scare about a minute later when key reserve Adreian Payne fell hard and was slow to get up, but he came back in the game after being evaluated on the bench and Izzo said he didn’t know what was hurting the junior forward briefly.
”Maybe his feelings, maybe his ankle,” Izzo said.