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Published: Monday, 3/3/2008

Spartans erupt, drub Hoosiers

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michigan State seniors Drew Neitzel, left, and Drew Naymick embrace before leaving a home game for the last time. Michigan State seniors Drew Neitzel, left, and Drew Naymick embrace before leaving a home game for the last time.
AL GOLDIS / AP Enlarge

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Indiana crumbled a little more than a week after a tumultuous transition and Dan Dakich took it personally.

Raymar Morgan scored 12 of his 20 points early to help No. 19 Michigan State build a big lead that helped it beat the 12th-ranked Hoosiers 103-74 yesterday, allowing the Spartans to finish undefeated at home and handing Dakich his first loss as interim coach.

"They played great and we did not and that's my fault," Dakich said. "If I'm going to be the guy that everybody pats on the back when things go well, then I'm going to be the guy that accepts it when things don't."

Indiana (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten) won its first two games with Dakich in charge following Kelvin Sampson's resignation amid NCAA allegations of major rules infractions.

"These kids have been through a lot, but it's been 10 days and that's no excuse," Dakich said. "We have to be better.

"I don't know that I've seen a team shoot that well, but we gave them too many easy looks and I take the blame for that."

Indiana, which had won four straight and seven of eight, was handed its most lopsided defeat since losing to Wisconsin 79-45 in 2004.

Eric Gordon scored 22 and D.J. White had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hoosiers, who had a chance to pull into a three-way tie with Big Ten leaders Wisconsin and Purdue.

"The championship was in our hands," Lance Stemler said. "Now, we've got to rely on other people."

The Spartans (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten) lost their shot at winning a conference championship by struggling on the road, but they put that behind them and had a spectacular game in their home finale.

They led 59-31 at halftime after making 78 percent of their shots, including nine 3-pointers, for their highest score in the first half of a Big Ten game since 2001 and their best shooting percentage at halftime in four years.

Michigan State had lost four of its previous seven games - with each setback on the road - but put together a dominant performance it hopes carries over to the final week on the road, then the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

"March is a great time at Michigan State and we're going to try to make it a special month," coach Tom Izzo said

Drew Neitzel scored 17 points in his final home game, Goran Suton had 17 points, Kalin Lucas scored 14 and Chris Allen added 11 for the Spartans.

"Today was a huge step for us," Neitzel said. "We want to play to the potential we showed today and build on a game like this."

Unfortunately for the Spartans, they will not have any more games at home.

Michigan State won all 17 of its games this season at the Breslin Center, where Indiana has lost 14 straight.

The game was essentially over the opening minutes and Morgan led the way.

The sophomore forward made a 3-pointer against a zone to open the game and followed that up with another 3-pointer, a lay-up, low-post shot and fastbreak dunk to put Michigan State ahead 27-16.

"I just wanted to come out aggressive," Morgan said. "Hitting a couple of 3s right way definitely helps you."

Michigan State lost 57-42 at Wisconsin on Thursday night and surpassed that point total against the Hoosiers with 5:33 left in the first half, when Neitzel made a 3-pointer and Dakich called his third timeout in the hopes of quieting the crowd and settling down his rattled team.

It didn't work.

Allen made consecutive

3-pointers late in the first half, leading to a chant of "We want tacos!" because fans can turn in their ticket stub for a free taco if the Spartans score 70.

Early in the second half, the free grub was sealed.

"They hit a lot of shots, but we didn't play defense at all," Gordon said. "We let them score 103 points. That should never happen."

Midway through the second half, Gordon's fadeaway capped a 9-0 run and pulled Indiana within 17 points.

But the Spartans scored seven straight as part of a run that put them ahead by 30 points again.

No. 1 Tennessee 63,

Kentucky 60

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Chris Lofton scored 14 points, including a jump shot with 1:15 left as Tennessee beat Kentucky to stay atop the Southeastern Conference.

Derrick Jasper hit a 3-pointer to cut the Vols' lead to 63-60, but Jasper and Joe Crawford both missed 3-point shots in the final 20 seconds that would have sent the game to overtime.

No. 4 UCLA 68, Arizona 66

TUCSON, Ariz. - Kevin Love had 24 points and 15 rebounds and UCLA hung on to defeat Arizona, the Bruins' seventh straight victory over the Wildcats.

The Bruins led by six points with 90 seconds to go, but had to withstand a last-second shot by Jerryd Bayless, which came up short.

Chase Budinger had 24 points for Arizona, which has lost six of seven and is in danger of snapping its 23-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances, the longest in the nation.

No. 13 Louisville 68, Villanova 54

LOUISVILLE - Juan Palacios scored 13 points in his final game at Freedom Hall to lead Louisville to a win over Villanova, setting up a showdown with No. 11 Georgetown next weekend for the Big East title.

Jerry Smith added 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead a balanced offense by the Cardinals, who won their ninth straight and remained tied with the Hoyas for first-place in the Big East. Malcolm Grant led Villanova with 11 points, but Villanova shot just 40 percent from the field and turned the ball over 14 times.

No. 17 Notre Dame 98, DePaul 91

ROSEMONT, Ill. - Luke Harangody scored 24 points, Rob Kurz added 21 and Notre Dame hung on to beat DePaul to clinch a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.

DePaul pulled within seven late in the game, and leading the way was freshman Dar Tucker, who scored a career-high 28 points.



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