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Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2005 12:28 AM EST
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(12) Michigan St 83, Ohio St 69

EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Chris Hill made a strong argument for returning to the starting lineup.

Hill hit his first eight shots, including six consecutive from the arc, en route to a season-high 26 points as No. 12 Michigan State posted an 83-69 victory over Ohio State.

"It sure was nice to have No. 5 (Hill) back," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I can't tell you how good he feels and how good we feel to have him in a position that he can do something like that."

On Saturday, Hill was not in the starting lineup against Iowa. The senior sharpshooter had struggled in his past 10 games, averaging just 7.2 points on 35 percent shooting, including 30 percent from the arc. Hill has been a 43 percent shooter from the arc during his career.

"Yesterday, he shot the ball really well. Today, he shot the ball well," Izzo said. "I am happy for him.

"I don't know what the reasons are (for his slump). I think the reason is that he is a career 43-percent 3-point shooter, which means he has done that over time. He went through a little bit of a slump like a lot of guys do. It helped his whole game, there was no question. His defense was better."

Hill scored 10 of his 15 first-half points over the final 3 1/2 minutes for the Spartans (16-4, 7-2 Big Ten), who trailed at the break, 43-41.

In the second half, Hill hit three 3-pointers and Maurice Ager knocked down a pair of shots from the arc in under three minutes, giving the Spartans a 62-53 lead with 12 1/2 minutes to play. Hill made 8-of-9 shots overall.

"I thought our guys came out and competed hard," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Michigan State is one of the best teams in the country and I think they showed that tonight. The blitz they put on us at the beginning of the second half was probably the difference in the game.

"Chris Hill, I remember watching him in high school in Indianapolis, and we had no answers for him; he put on a clinic tonight."

Ager, who had been battling an illness, came off the bench in this one and scored 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He made 3-of-4 from the arc.

"Maurice Ager deserves a purple heart," Izzo said. "He was sicker than a dog this morning; (I) didn't know if he was going to play at all because of the flu. He battled back and made some big shots and key plays."

"I tried to focus in and slow myself down and sprinted off screens to try to get my shot going," Ager said.

Terence Dials controlled the inside and kept the Buckeyes in the game. He scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half and finished with 22.

"Our biggest adjustment in the second half was that we had to take away their inside game and keep their guards from penetrating," Hill said. "Dials still did a very good job, and they did a good job of getting it into him but we did a good job of keeping the guards in front and forcing them to take outside shots."

Ohio State (16-8, 5-5), which was attempting to win five consecutive conference games for the first time since the 2001-02 season, has lost its last 10 visits to East Lansing.

© 2005 STATS, Inc