State struggles past Northern 77-58

You just can't turn the ball over 26 times and let a team have 14 steals on you with the way Northern and Lake Superior pressed on us. I was very disappointed. --Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

EAST LANSING - Maurice Ager shook off a cold start and poured in 25 points, Shannon Brown (3-of-10) chipped in 17 more to help the Spartans to a closer than expected 77-58 victory over Northern Michigan in the exhibition finale at the Breslin Center.

Goran Suton and Drew Neitzel each had 10 points for the Spartans, but center Paul Davis struggled, finishing with just six points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. Additionally, 26 MSU turnovers, including a team leading eight by Brown and five by Drew Naymick frustrated MSU head coach Tom Izzo.

Izzo was more disappointed in the team's defensive play and failure to take care of the ball than he was with the struggling offense.

``We did not defend very well", lamented Izzo. ``It was as bad as the other night. You just can't turn the ball over 26 times and let a team have 14 steals on you with the way Northern and Lake Superior pressed on us. I was very disappointed. I can't hide my disappointment."

Izzo blamed some of the turnover problems on the number of players playing in the frontcourt and vowed that would change. He added that he would rely on his guards to pace the team until the frontcourt play improved.

``We're going to have to get a little bit more out of our point guards right now. We need to get more leadership out of Shannon, Drew and Maurice if we're going to be a good basketball team. We're not going to panic over this because it's all still in the experimental mode. But we're still disappointed in our turnovers and average rebounds."

Nick Buck with 18 points and seven rebounds and Will Washington with 10 points and seven rebounds kept the Huskies closer than expected in this one.

The Spartans now head to Hawaii to face the Rainbows before taking part in the annual Maui classic. ``Hawaii is good. They've got good players they're coached very well and it is a difficult place to play in," said Izzo of his team's next contest. ``There is no question that not many teams go in there and win. We'll have to play better than we have either game to win in Hawaii. We're not gonna win any games playing like we did today -- but I don't expect us to play like that either."


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