#15 Spartans run past Oakland, but Izzo not happy

"We've got a lot of work to do [to prepare for Illinois] and that's what we're going to do in these next couple days." --Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.

In a closer than expected first half the visitors from Oakland University hung tough with the Michigan State Spartans and trailed by a 45-36 margin at the half. However, sparked by 22 points from Maurice Ager and a 15-2 run to start the second half, the host Spartans cruised to a 92-75 victory before 14,759 fans at the Breslin Center.

Shannon Brown, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert each had 13 points for Michigan State (14-3), who have now won 11 of their last 12 heading into a Big Ten showdown Tuesday night at home against #1 Illinois.

Courtney Scott, a Lansing native, scored 19 points and Rawle Marshall added 16 for the Golden Grizzlies (5-13). Scott, who also tallied 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals; was playing his first game in the Breslin Center since he and former Spartan Marcus Taylor led the Waverly Warriors to the 2000 Michigan Class A state championship.

The big key to Michigan State's victory was a second-straight game of intense backcourt defense. The Spartans' full-court pressure allowed them to score 34 points off of 20 Oakland turnovers. In comparison, the Grizzlies only managed 5 points off of 14 Michigan State miscues.

The Spartans were also helped by the fact that Oakland only shot 14-28 from the foul line; with leading scorers Scott and Marshall themselves going a combined 9-19 (.321).

Michigan State won the rebounding battle 38-31, despite the absence of Center Paul Davis, who spent the evening on the bench resting a sprained ankle. He is fully expected to play Tuesday versus the Illini and was only held out as a precautionary measure.

When asked if Davis would have played Saturday night if it had been a conference game, Spartan coach Tom Izzo said, "Yeah, I think so. If we held him out, he could practice these next two days, and if we didn't hold him out, he would have to take tomorrow off, and we can't afford that."

While Michigan State has garnered victories in 11 of their last 12 matchups, it is clear that they still have some work to do if they are to defeat the powerful Illinois squad this coming Tuesday.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Izzo said, "and that's what we're going to do in these next couple days."

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