After a week layoff, No.9 Michigan State erased any doubt of coming out flat against IPFW on Saturday night at the Breslin Center.
MSU (9-1) started the game on an 18-5 run, with Drew Neitzel scoring eight of those points, as the Spartans went on to beat the Mastodons 79-57.
Neitzel paced the Spartans with 16 points and four assists in the first half, finishing with 18 points. Marquise Gray had his best game of the season, scoring 15 points.
Jaruan Burrows scored 15 points and 10 rebounds for IPFW (4-5), who committed 22 turnovers.
With a 36-20 MSU lead, IPFW came storming back shooting the three.
DeWitt Scott and Jakari Johnson hit three-pointers, Burrows made a layup and Armend Ademi made two free-throws to bring the Mastodons within nine points with three minutes left in the first half at 36-27.
MSU went into halftime leading 40-29.
IPFW came within 43-37 to start the second half, as MSU did not score a basket until the 14:40 mark.
MSU responded with an eight-point swing to take their lead back up to ten points with 11 minutes left.
But Jakari Johnson kept his team afloat, scoring 17 points and coming up with some big steals in the second half.
"I think when we come out like we did in the first half and get a team down like that we need to keep them out of it and keep them down and not let them get back in it," said Gray.
Both teams shot well from three-point range, (IPFW 6-for-17, MSU 4-for-8) but the difference in the game was the MSU defense, which did not allow IPFW to go inside, having to settle for tough perimeter shots.
Mastodon's freshman Ben Botts came into the game as the leading three-point shooter in the country, averaging near 60 percent from deep, but was held to 1-of-4 from three-point range for a total of 11 points.
"We did a good job of recognizing where the shooter was, a lot of the time we were very focused on their shooters and we did a good job of containing them," said Gray.
MSU did a great job shutting down Demetrius Johnson as well, who came in averaging 10.9 points, 9.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. He finished the game 0-for-4 from the field with 2 points and seven turnovers.
"Botts is going to be a heck of a player, he made some nice shots off the dribble and he will keeping getting better," said coach Tom Izzo.
All five starters for the Mastodons came in averaging in double-figures.
"We did a decent job against Botts but we did a better job against (Demetrius) Johnson, he is a prolific scorer and he does some nice things for them, we did a nice job not letting him dribble penetrate, we had some smaller lineups in there tonight and we did a great job on defense" said Izzo.
"We did a decent jobs at times but there were times where we relaxed, that's how big upsets happen threes and upsets and overall we did a good job on our three-point defense," said Goran Suton.
Dane Fife Praises Michigan State
IPFW coach and former Indiana standout Dane Fife had high praise for this year's Michigan State team, saying that it might be the best MSU team in the program's history.
"Michigan State is an unbelievable basketball team and I don't want to disrespect any of coach Izzo's teams, but in my opinion, this is probably one of the best teams he has had since the Mateen Cleaves and Mo Peterson years."
"Like I said, I don't want to disrespect any of the Final Four teams, but I just really like this team and how they compete. They may not have the talent that the other teams had, but this is just a really good basketball team," said Fife.
MSU Defense Shuts Down IPFW Shooters
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