Raymar Morgan scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to notch his second double-double in as many days, as No.12 Michigan State advanced to the semifinals of the CBE Classic with a win over Louisiana-Monroe 83-65.
Freshman Chris Allen led the Spartans (2-0) in scoring with 17 points and Drew Neitzel added 15, as MSU tightened up their perimeter defense in the second half to slow down the Warhawks (1-2).
MSU took a 47-35 lead into halftime but that quickly turned into a 57-56 Louisiana-Monroe lead with 13:46 left, as the Warhawks made five three-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half.
Senior guard Jordan Payne led all scorers with 26 points for the Warhawks, sinking seven three-pointers in the game.
ULM shot more than half of their field-goals from long-range (38 three-point attempts out of 67 shots) and it caught up with them midway through the second half. The Warhawks made 14 three-pointers and their 38 three-point attempts was the most ever by a Spartan opponent.
During a ULM timeout with 9:38 left in the second half and MSU leading 64-57, Tom Izzo made some adjustments to his defense. MSU came out with an aggressive perimeter defense that forced the Warhawks to take their game inside, in effect taking them out of their comfort zone.
From that point, the Spartans scored the next 11 points and ended the game on a 19-8 run, with the Warhawks scoring only 5 points in an eight-minute span.
"We tried our best to defend it but they just did a great job of making shots, coach just said we need to pick it up defensively, we let them run, get their confidence up and at that point we really just tried to lock down on defense," said Morgan, who was named the CBE Classic Most Valuable Player in the East Lansing region.
MSU pressured every outside shooter and forced ULM to put up bad shots, as MSU took advantage on the fast break.
"We did some things where we switched a little bit more, we played Raymar (Morgan) at the four, but they hit some shots too," said Izzo. "Once that stretch came when they hit three or four threes in a row, and a nine point lead went down to nothing, it gave them some confidence and they started taking it at us but in the second half I think we did a good job."
A big factor in the win was the amazing differential in rebounding, with MSU dominating 50-23 on the night.
"I didn't think it would be 50-23," said Louisiana-Monroe coach Orlando Early.
"When we did get a good defensive possession and get a stop, they were able to get the offensive rebound and put it back in to score on us. We weren't able to get a lot of defensive rebounds for a couple of reasons: A- they were bigger and stronger than us, but B- they shot 54 percent from the floor."
Michigan State will now travel to Kansas City to face Missouri on Monday in the semifinals of the CBE Classic. The other semifinal features Maryland taking on No.2 UCLA.
"It will be a much tougher, there are four good teams there now, the competition is going to be great, I think this is going to be a phenomenal tournament, it has very good coaches, very good players, and very good styles. So it will be a lot of fun," said Izzo.
Spartans Advance to CBE Classic Semis
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