No. 20 Michigan State tops Bowling Green 64-53

  • Article by: JOHN SEEWER
  • Associated Press
  • December 18, 2012 - 9:15 PM

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine scored 12 points apiece, and No. 20 Michigan State clamped down on defense Tuesday night in a 64-53 victory over Bowling Green.

Branden Dawson added 10 points for the Spartans (10-2), who struggled to put away the Falcons until late in the second half in a rare road game against a Mid-American Conference school. The Spartans held the Falcons to just two points over a six-minute stretch in the second half and only one field goal over the last 10 minutes of the game.

Bowling Green's Chauncey Orr tied it at 45 with midway through the second half before Michigan State's defense took over.

The Spartans went on a 14-2 run highlighted by Dawson's dunk after a steal, drawing a big cheer from the many Michigan State fans filling the Bowling Green arena.

Orr, who had a career-high 16 points, missed the final 10 minutes with cramps and the Falcons couldn't do anything offensively.

Michigan State held Bowling Green (5-5) to 33 percent shooting from the field (19 of 58) and also shut down its top scorer, holding Jordon Crawford to 10 points, six below his average.

The Spartans had to rely on their freshmen with leading scorer Keith Appling having a tough shooting night.

Appling matched his career high of 25 points last week, but scored just two in the first half and finished with nine. Derrick Nix added nine points and eight rebounds for Michigan State.

The Spartans had another sluggish starts, turning over the ball on three of their first four possessions and giving up several easy baskets in the first half.

Branden Kearney's jumper at the buzzer put the Spartans up 34-29 at halftime.

Orr kept the Falcons close early on, matching his career high for a game with 11 points in the first half.

It was Michigan State's first trip to Bowling Green since 1990 when they were ranked fifth and lost to the Falcons. Former Spartans coach Jud Heathcote vowed they'd never return.

Current head coach Tom Izzo was an assistant on Heathcote's staff back then.

Few Big Ten teams have been willing to go on the road against Mid-American Conference teams, even though most are nearby.

Bowling Green has been a giant killer at home over the years, beating three of four Big Ten teams that had visited in the last 22 years prior to Tuesday.

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