The No. 15 MSU mens basketball team outlasted a scrappy South Florida squad in a less than spectacular performance.
The Spartans (7-2) downed the Bulls (5-3) 65-59 on Saturday at the Breslin Center, in a game that featured both teams struggling to play the entire 40 minutes.
South Florida came out flat in the first half, going without a field goal for the first 12 minutes of the game. A three-point shot from guard Marcel Bryant at the 8:32 mark ended the drought. The Bulls shot a dismal .172 (5-24) from the field in the first half.
The Spartans didnt fare much better in the first half, shooting .333 (11-33) from the field, but took advantage of the Bulls rough start to take the 33-17 lead at half.
MSU got out to a 6-2 lead, before breaking the half wide open scoring nine unanswered points.
After two free throws from Bulls forward Will McDonald, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 22-4.
Sophomore guard Chris Hill and freshman forward Erazem Lorbek had 9 and 7 points, respectively, to lead the Spartans in the first half.
In the second half the Bulls turned up the defensive intensity and the scoring.
South Florida hit 14-of-31 shots in the second half and was able to cut into the Spartans lead. Forward Jimmy Baxter, who was held scoreless in the first half, rattled off 10 points for the Bulls.
The Bulls pulled to within 10 at the 7:05 mark, only to see MSU pull away to a 16-point lead with five minutes to go.
While South Florida was leading the charge to get back in the game, MSU was helping itself. MSU connected on eight field goals in the second half. The Bulls outscored the Spartans 39-32 in the second half, with most of MSUs scoring coming from the charity stripe, 24-for-34 from the line.
MSU also struggled to keep position of the ball, turning the ball over 15 times, while the Bulls continued to pick up the offensive boards and hustle for the loose balls. The Spartans out rebounded the Bulls by just three, 39-36.
Leading the way for the Bulls was McDonald, who despite shooting 5-of-18 from the field, finished with 15 points. McDonald averaged 24 points in the previous two games.
Guard Brian Swift also pumped in 15 points.
Hill and forward Alan Anderson paced the Spartans with 12 points apiece.
The Spartans resume Saturday Dec. 28 against Jacksonville State. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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