Mateen Cleaves was still leading No. 3 Michigan State, even with his foot in a cast.
"That's the time to win," said Peterson, who along with Charlie Bell and Andre Hutson, pulled the Spartans out of a desperate situation Friday with a 59-56 victory over South Carolina. "Whenever Mateen says it, you have to listen to him. You feel like you owe it to him."
"Even though guys are stepping up, I still don't think we're used to not having Mateen," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "At the end of the game, he's the one with the ball in his hands."
Money time is what the Spartans call it, said Peterson, to keep them zeroed in on their goals. Against South Carolina, it was "Morris time" "I think of it as `team time,"' Peterson said.
Michigan State seemed to have things in hand, up 33-20 at the break. But the Gamecocks got a 12-4 run, led 44-43 on Antonio Grant's insde basket and seemed ready for a big upset.
But Bell hit a 3-pointer and, after Damien Kinloch's basket tied it, followed with a jumper. Peterson then made two free throws and two running layups, the last after stripping the ball from Aaron Lucas, and Michigan State led 57-50 with 2:25 left.
Herbert Lee Davis' two 3-pointers got the Gamecocks within a point. But Hutson was fouled on a rebound and made the two clinching free throws with 52 seconds remaining.
Travis Kraft had a desperation heave at the buzzer that fell short for South Carolina.
Peterson ended with 21 points and Bell had 13 points. Hutson had 12 points.
Kinloch had 13 points and Herbert Lee Davis 12 for South Carolina. Grant, averaging more than 13 points for the Gamecocks, was held to five.
These were the moments when Michigan State was supposed to count on Cleaves. But the star guard won't be back until January after surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot.
Peterson said that was partly the problem against the Gamecocks. Cleaves keep the focus on the game, no matter what the score. With Cleaves on the bench, the Spartans felt their big lead would hold up.
"We got to find that intensity even without him," Peterson said. "This will be good for us to win a game like this. But we've got to put games away when we have them."
Peterson, who stepped up with 18 points to lead the Spartans on Thursday against Providence, got going early in this one. He started the game with a 3-pointer, then had a basket and another 3-pointer as Michigan State led 12-3.
Peterson's third 3-pointer extended the lead to 23-9 and his fourth made it 33-20. He finished with 15 points in the half and the Spartans defense did the rest.
There wasn't a lot expected from South Carolina, which went 8-21 last year and whose wins this year included Wofford and Citadel. But coach Eddie Fogler liked that his team hung in against a formidable opponent.
That didn't make Davis feel any better.
"It's a loss and we came here to win," he said.
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