Michigan State Keeps Arizona In Check, 74-60

Dec 15, 2001

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The streak lives.

It started at Michigan State 45 months ago with players such as MorrisPeterson, and it continued Saturday with some Spartans few have heard of.

Adam Ballinger scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds asthe 23rd-ranked Spartans beat No. 6 Arizona 74-60 to extend the nation'slongest home winning streak to 50 games.

'They realized that this was their chance to make a mark for themselves,'Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. 'This is the first mark they get to make.It's not the biggest thing in the world, it's not going to make national news,but it's important to our program and it's important those players.'

The Spartans (6-3) got off to a good start, never trailed and held off theWildcats (5-2) after they began the second half with a 10-0 run.

When some key Michigan State players were in foul trouble with about 10minutes left, two freshmen and a walk-on were able to do enough to maintain thelead.

The 50 straight wins at the Breslin Center ties a Big Ten record held byOhio State (1959-63) and Indiana (1991-95). Just seven of Michigan State's 50wins at home have been by less than 10 points.

'This is a great win for this young team,' Ballinger said. 'Some guyswon't realize what 50 wins means, but I was here when it started during myredshirt year. A lot of guys put a lot of hard work into this and we didn'twant to let them down.'

Marcus Taylor had 19 points, six assists and six rebounds while helping thedefensive effort against Jason Gardner, who scored 17 points on 3-of-14shooting. Gardner entered the game averaging 24.2 points.

'We shut down the guy we needed to,' Taylor said.

Luke Walton and Rick Anderson each scored 15 points for Arizona, which beganthe season unranked but rose to sixth after beating Maryland, Florida, Texas,Illinois and Texas.

'I'm disgusted,' Anderson said. 'We came out like turtles, mentally weakand unprepared. They ran past us like hares and were just tougher than us.'

The teams played for the third straight season, but the only things similarwere their uniforms and their need to replace stars.

Gardner and Michigan State's Aloysius Anagonye were the only returningstarters from last year's meeting in the Final Four, which Arizona won to endthe Spartans' hopes for repeating as national champions.

The Wildcats saw three players - Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas andMichael Wright - enter the NBA draft as underclassmen and Loren Woods leave asa senior.

The Spartans lost two players early - Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph -to the NBA and five seniors, including Andre Hutson and Charlie Bell.

Michigan State has won four straight Big Ten titles and advanced to theFinal Four three consecutive seasons because of its defense and rebounding.

The Spartans outrebounded Arizona 46-36 and held it to 30.2 percentshooting.

'We realize that everything we have here is because of the guys from thepast,' Taylor said. 'We knew they were going to watch us play, so we wantedto make them proud.'

Michigan State's suffocating defense held Arizona to 17.9 percent shootingin the first half and helped it take a 13-point lead midway through the firsthalf and a 38-22 halftime lead. Gardner was 0-for-7 in the first half.

'Jason is really a key, key guy for us,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said.'If he's not knocking down shots, like in the first half, we're going to haveproblems. I think he sometimes feels like he has to do too much.'

Arizona began the second half with the 10-0 run and later, a layup by Waltonpulled it within five with just under 12 minutes to play. Michigan Stateresponded with an 11-2 run to take a 54-42 lead and control of the game forgood.

Michigan State's fans, especially the student section, 'The Izzone,' beganto make their presence felt by Arizona when they waited outside the arena toshout at the team bus more than an hour before the game.

Then they created chaos early and often for the Wildcats during the gamewith their cheers and jeers.

'That's an atmosphere that is second to none,' Izzo said. 'That's anatmosphere that elite programs have.

'That atmosphere got us a win, don't kid yourself.'

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