Harris' 3-pointers lift MSU over Tennessee Tech 71-63
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State needs Eron Harris to score, and do some of it with 3-point shots instead of most often choosing to dribble and drive to the basket.
"I've been trying to figure it out," he said after he started the scoring in each half by making multiple 3-pointers to help the Spartans stay in front throughout and beat Tennessee Tech 71-63 Saturday at the Breslin Center.
Harris, a senior guard, hit a trio of 3-pointers early in the first half, and two early in the second half and scored 20 points. He was 5 of 11 from behind the 3-point line.
"It seemed like every time we made a push, Eron Harris answered it," Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Harris heeded the 3-point shot request, and played well while Izzo shuffled lineups due to multiple injuries and 28 fouls being called on the Spartans.
"If I looked frustrated, I probably was," Izzo said. "We had some bizarre lineups in my dreams I didn't have. In my nightmares I didn't have. We got a win though, and we went to Eron and ran some things for him. He played pretty good."
Junior guard Aleksa Jugovic, the top scorer for the Golden Eagles (4-7) this season at 17 points per game, scored 14 on 4-of-13 shooting. Senior guard Kajon Mack scored 12 points.
Michigan State freshman center Nick Ward, who scored 10 points, bothered and blocked shots on the defensive end and scored inside to help the Spartans (7-4) build a 58-44 lead with 11:29 remaining. Foul trouble limited him to 12 minutes.
Michigan State led by 18 points five minutes into the game, but Tennessee Tech trimmed it to 10 by halftime and closed it to single digits in the game's final minute.
"That's a good team," Izzo said. "We had them down by 18 a couple of times, and it was a case where if you can get them down by 20 it becomes 30. But they didn't let that happen."
TENNESSEE TECH: The Golden Eagles came in averaging 76.2 points per game on 43 percent shooting, but managed just 27 points on 35 percent shooting in the first half to trail by 10. They improved to 40 percent in the second half.
MICHIGAN STATE: The injury-hampered Spartans played without two recent starters, sophomore guard Matt McQuaid (concussion symptoms) and freshman forward Miles Bridges (ankle), but had more than enough for Tennessee Tech. McQuaid should be back this week, and Bridges, whose 16.7 points per game average leads the team, could return by next weekend.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo received the USBWA Dean Smith Award in a short ceremony before the game. The award goes to the individual who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coach. Izzo was named the winner in October.
The Spartans made 17 of 30 free throws (56.7 percent) and came into the game shooting 62 percent for the season.
"We are going to start making them or I'm going to get fined," Izzo said. "That 20 hours (of practice time allowed each week) is going to turn into 20 hours just on free throws."
TENNESSEE TECH: The Golden Eagles head back to their home state, but stay on the road when they take on the "big" school back home, the University of Tennessee on Tuesday.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans, three games into a five-game stretch of home games, hit the practice floor for a week and take finals before hosting Northeastern on Dec. 18.