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Back in first place, Spartans set to host Wildcats

<I>ESPN</I> is projecting Michigan State as #42 in its 64 team "Bracketology Report." The Spartans have winnable games against at bubble team Michigan and at Penn State before a potential regular season conference championship decider against Wisconsin at the Breslin Center. <P>

Michigan State regained first place in the Big Ten standings with a combination of a win over Purdue and Illinois' win over Wisconsin.

Sophomore center Paul Davis again led the way for the Spartans with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Kelvin Torbert chipped in with 15 points and 6 rebounds.

The Spartans did a much better job this time around defending guards Kenneth Lowe and Brandon McKnight. While McKnight led the Boilermakers with 16 points, MSU held Lowe to just 2 points.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said the Spartans got it done by getting physical and making their free throw attempts.

"We did a great job at the free throw line, " said Izzo. "I was happy for Paul Davis. I thought Kelvin Torbert came through. I thought that Tim Bograkos and Jason (Andreas) did a great job for us because we had some guys who were struggling and they really came through and saved us. So, we had to find a way to win and we found a way to win. It was the old-fashioned way.

After [the] Illinois [game], I said that we have beat teams playing 42 percent in the past. We shot 41 percent today and we found a way to win by making it a complete defense, and for that I am excited because this team has to learn how to get down and dirty."

The Spartans want to continue their winning ways down the stretch of the Big Ten regular season with a win over the Northwestern at 12:17 at the Breslin Center on Saturday. MSU got a big lift from Illinois' win over Wisconsin. Luther Head, who earlier shut down Paul Davis in the Illini's win over Michigan State, shut down Wisconsin's leading scorer Devin Harris.

ESPN is projecting Michigan State as #42 in its 64-team "Bracketology Report." The Spartans have winnable games at bubble team Michigan and at Penn State before a potential regular season conference championship decider against Wisconsin at the Breslin Center.

The Spartans cannot afford to get "bitten" by the raucous home crowd in Ann Arbor at Crisler Arena next Tuesday against a dangerous but inconsistent Michigan team. MSU has allowed opposing teams to rattle them at times on the road. A loss at Michigan could hurt their eventual seeding in the NCAA tournament.


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