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NCAA Tournament Recap (Mt St Marys-Michigan St)

Posted: Sat March 13, 1999 at 2:58 a.m EST

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- A.J. Granger scored 15 points as top-seeded Michigan State cruised to a 76-53 victory over Mount St. Mary's in the first round of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.

Much like the regular season, the Spartans (30-4) did nothing spectacular and steadily built their lead throughout. Three different players had three-point plays and five Spartans scored in a 14-2 first-half run that provided Michigan State with a 25-16 lead with 6:17 to go.

Antonio Smith added 14 points and Andre Hutson 11 for the Spartans, who extended their school-record winning streak to 19 games and will play Mississippi in Sunday's second round.

"We were a little sluggish early and I thought they played awfully well," said Spartans coach Tom Izzo. "Thank God that Antonio rebounded very well early and I think Mateen (Cleaves) ran us pretty good early."

Melvin Whitaker scored 13 points and Gregory Harris added 12 for Mount St. Mary's (15-15), which made a more respectable showing in its second NCAA Tournament appearance. The Mountaineers were a 16th seed in 1995 when they were thrashed by Kentucky, 113-67.

A 3-pointer by Harris gave Mount St. Mary's its final lead at 14-11 with 14:17 to go in the first half before the Spartans began using their superior depth and size. Smith had a three-point play before Thomas Kelley had a 3-pointer to give Michigan State a 17-14 lead at the 12:34 mark.

Morris Peterson and Whitaker traded baskets before Cleaves and Hutson had three-point plays to push the Spartans' lead to 25-16 with 6:17 to go. Two free throws by Harris pulled the Mount within 27-21, but a jumper by Cleaves ignited an 11-3 run to end the half as Michigan State opened a 38-24 lead on Granger's 3-pointer from the left wing just before the buzzer.

The Spartans left no doubt about the outcome as they scored the first eight points of the second half, extending their bulge to 46-24 on a lay-in by Hutson 1:56 into the second half. Michigan State's bench accounted for 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting and pulled down 20 rebounds, 12 by Peterson.

"Mo brings a lot of scoring and gets a lot of offensive rebounds," said Smith. "Then on defense, he's an athlete. He can cover a lot of different guys. He can do a lot of different things out there. If he comes out there with the emotion he came out with tonight, he can really help us."

Michigan State shot 50 percent (29-of-58) from the field and held a whopping 46-22 advantage on the boards, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds.

"On the defensive end, we really concentrated on boxing them out because they had a lot of taller guys," said Smith. "Offensively, we just crashed the boards with like four guys."

The Mount shot just 32 percent (16-of-50) and committed 15 turnovers. Mount St. Mary's was 8-of-18 from beyond the arc, but hit 6-of-9 in the second half when the game was out of reach. Whitaker was 5-of-14 and Harris 4-of-13 from the floor.

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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