They made up for that though with terrific defense, holding the visiting UCLA Bruins to 34.4 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers in a 76-64 victory before Earvin Johnson and another 14,758 fans on a "White-Out" night at the Breslin Center.
The 23rd-ranked Spartans (7-2) won their fourth-straight game thanks to a 14-1 run in the first half and another keyed 10-0 run after halftime. The Spartans' inside-outside game was a big factor. Paul Davis scored 18 points and grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds; while Chris Hill scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field to lead the Spartan scoring parade.
MSU freshman point guard Drew Neitzel had his best performance of his young career, tying a season-high with 8 points, no turnovers and one assist. Spartan two-sport star Matt Trannon also contributed for the Spartans, with 6 rebounds in just 11 minutes of action.
UCLA started four freshmen and were led in scoring by Freshman Josh Shipp, who poured in a career-high 18 points for the Bruins (6-2). Freshman Arron Afflalo added 16 points for UCLA and the only veteran starter, Senior Dijon Thompson, had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
After the Spartans led by 10 points at halftime, 42-32, Chris Hill made consecutive 3-pointers and Paul Davis followed with 4 quick points in the paint to extend the Spartan lead to 20 points, 52-32.
MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo was pleased with his team's performance:
"I thought that we played pretty well in the first half, very well in the start of the second, and we had our chances to really do some things. We made some mistakes, but the run we had in the second half, the execution of our offense, I thought was phenomenal. We isolated Paul Davis and we did a very good job of getting him the ball, so our guards deserve credit for that. Chris Hill hit some big shots and made some key in-bounds plays."
UCLA Skipper Ben Howland praised the home team as well:
"We were beat by a very good basketball team tonight. . . . They play very hard and are very physical. The bottom line is in the first half they hurt us with their transition game. They had 12 points in transition and they had 14 points off turnovers. . . . We didn't have an answer to Paul Davis. . . . We tried to cover (Davis) down. He did a good job kicking the ball out to hit a couple threes, one out to Hill to start the second half. They were a team that shot a lot of threes tonight, 27 out of 57 attempts from the field. I thought we needed to get to the rim a lot more than we did."
For the game, Michigan State shot 44.8 percent from the field (26-of-58) and 80 percent (16-of-20) from the charity stripe. They also scored 22 points off of the 18 Bruin turnovers.
The Spartans are now off for the Christmas holiday and won't resume action until next Wednesday, December 29, when they host the University of North Carolina - Ashville at the Breslin Center at 7 p.m.