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Spartans Boss Around UConn

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo called it a storybook game. Connecticut's Jim Calhoun called it shocking.

Guess whose team won?

Charlie Bell opened each half with a 3-pointer as Michigan State bombed the Huskies 85-66 in a long-awaited battle between two of last season's Final Four teams Saturday.

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  • "Just simply put, I'm astounded by the way we played or didn't play," said Calhoun, whose team beat the Spartans by 14 in a game last season at Storrs, Conn. "Michigan State played sensational basketball. They had such a high energy level."

    The Spartans, aided by a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounds, scored 25 second-chance points and got 20 points off turnovers.

    "I wanted to get a read on my team," Izzo said. "But that was obviously an off-day for UConn. You won't see them play like that again."

    It was a school-record 24th straight home win for the No. 8 Spartans (17-5), breaking a mark set during the early 1930s and matched during the mid-1960s.

  • Michigan
    No. 8 Michigan State
    blew away No. 7 UConn 85-66.
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  • Coach Izzo On Team
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  • Izzo On The Great DayThe loss stopped a three-game winning streak for seventh-ranked UConn (16-5), a Big East powerhouse that is 11-2 in nonconference games. The Huskies' other nonconference loss was to Iowa, another Big Ten team.

    The Spartans, who haven't been outrebounded all season, had a 40-26 edge on the boards, 25-17 at the defensive end.

    "They gave us no inches, no space," Calhoun said. "This was a drilling. We didn't have a chance to win this game, probably, after the first 10 minutes. I admired Michigan State's game. And I hated it."

    Morris Peterson led the Spartans with 16 points, freshman Jason Richardson scored 14, A.J. Granger had 13 and Bell 11.

    Khalid El-Amin scored 21 and Albert Mouring added 13 for the cold-shooting Huskies, who hit only 26-of-60 from the field.

    This was supposed to be a hard-fought contest between two of the nation's best. Yet it was no contest. The Spartans saw to that.

    Bell buried a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the game as Michigan State opened with a 7-0 burst and never trailed.

    "It's good to hit a 3 to start a half," Bell said. "That really gets a team going."

    The Spartans, playing perhaps their best defensive half of the season, kept the defending national champions off-balance, out of the paint, and forced the Huskies to take hurried shots.

    Bell's layup off a fastbreak pass from Mateen Cleaves gave the Spartans a 23-10 lead with 8:11 left in the half. Bell's 3-pointer with 6:36 left made it 29-10 and UConn called a timeout. At that point, the Huskies had made only 5 of 19 field goal attempts.

    "We fed off our defense," Cleaves said. "But I can't say it was easy. After the game, coach was surprised because we weren't talking. I told him we were quiet because we were tired."

    The Spartans, holding UConn to two field goals over the final 4:58, led 46-17 at halftime without having a player in double figures. They had held UConn to 8-of-28 from the field and outrebounded the Huskies 24-10. Connecticut didn't attempt a free throw in the first half.

    "Fast-break and second-chance points generally are the result of hard work," Calhoun said. "So, if this was a test for us today, we failed it."

    El-Amin and Edmund Saunders each scored four points as UConn opened the second half with an 8-3 run.

    But the Spartans soon got back in gear. Peterson made a pair of 3-pointers and his basket from the paint gave Michigan State a 63-29 lead with 12:40 left.

    The Spartans went 6:02 before making another field goal, on Peterson's layup, but it hardly matered.

    "This is a game I'll definitely mark on my calendar," Peterson said. "But we're still looking at the big picture. If we're satisfied with this, we're in trouble."

    The Huskies played without Tony Robertson and Doug Wrenn, freshman reserves who were suspended indefinitely Friday for unspecified violations of team rules.

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