Stanford turned five Michigan State turnovers into 11 points and led 13-6 before the Spartans took control by converting four-straight shots to go ahead for good. The momentum swing came after MSU started the game 2-of-13 from the floor. After the burst, Michigan State led 24-17 and stretched their lead to nine by halftime.
The Spartans were led by a sensational effort from junior Center Paul Davis. Davis poured in 20 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, snared 8 rebounds, and went 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was pleased not only with Davis' performance, but also with his aggressiveness. "He demanded the ball and we got him the ball," Izzo said.
Stanford's leading scorer was Forward Matt Haryasz, who dropped in 12 points. He was the only Cardinal player to reach double digits. Stanford's leading scorer on the season, Guard Dan Grunfeld, was held to 6 points on 2-of-8 shooting. Before Saturday's game, Grunfeld was averaging 19.4 PPG.
It has been a tough season for the Cardinal.
Stanford has three starters back from last season's team, which finished 30-2, but they entered this season without 2003-04 Pac-10 Player of the Year Josh Childress and former head coach Mike Montgomery. Childress is now a rookie with the Atlanta Hawks and Montgomery is now head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
"We're struggling to adjust to our new roles," said new Cardinal skipper Trent Johnson, who led Nevada past Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. "Our margin of error is very small."
The litmus test for Michigan State this season has been rebounding, as they are 5-0 when they win the battle of the boards. They had a 34-to-28 advantage against the Cardinal Saturday, with 24 of those coming on the defensive end.
MSU's defense was also strong, creating 15 Cardinal turnovers and holding Stanford to just 32.7% from the field (17-of-52) overall, and just 11.1% from beyond the arc (1-for-9).
Next up for the Michigan State (5-2), is a 2 p.m. game next Saturday, December 18, in the Breslin Center against Delaware State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.