Monday, March 24, 2003

South: MSU stomps No. 2-seed Florida

Texas holds off Purdue

The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - Turns out, Michigan State didn't need Anthony Roberson - or any help at all, really.

Michigan State, stung and shocked when Roberson chose Florida over the home-state Spartans, held the freshman guard scoreless Sunday as part of a stunningly easy 68-46 win over the Gators in the second round.

Getting playing time that might have otherwise gone to Roberson, freshman guard Maurice Ager scored 16 points to help the seventh-seeded Spartans (22-11) win in a rematch of the 2000 title game, also a Michigan State victory.

Tom Izzo's team advanced to play defending champion Maryland in the South Regional semifinals next week in San Antonio.

Florida, meanwhile, can forget the Alamodome.

The second-seeded Gators (25-8) failed to get past the first weekend of the tournament for the third straight year - and failed to break 50 points for the first time in coach Billy Donovan's seven years. They closed what had looked like a promising season - they were ranked No. 1 in the country on Feb. 3 - with four losses in five games.

Seniors Matt Bonner, Brett Nelson and Justin Hamilton ended their final seasons the same way they ended their first - as dispirited losers to Michigan State in the NCAAs.

With or without Roberson, the Spartans are simply better than Donovan's team. They played a grinding, brutish brand of basketball that Florida couldn't match.

Led by Ager's 6-for-9 night and Erazem Lorbek's 4-for-7 effort, Michigan State shot 55 percent from the floor - 70 percent in the first half when it took a 37-27 lead. The Spartans are shooting 50 percent in the tournament, 5 percent above their regular-season average.

Roberson certainly wouldn't have fit in.

The Saginaw native, who caused a ripple back home with his late decision to shun Izzo's four-year recruiting effort and play at Florida, finished 0-for-6 with two assists.

Early in the game, he was greeted with a nasty blow to the face while running through a pick set by Lorbek.

MICHIGAN ST. (21-12)-Anderson 1-3 5-7 7, Lorbek 4-7 2-4 12, Anagonye 3-3 0-0 6, Hill 5-8 0-0 12, Torbert 2-8 3-4 7, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Ager 6-9 2-2 16, Bograkos 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 4-5 0-1 8, Andreas 0-0 0-0 0, Westrick 0-1 0-0 0, Ballinger 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-45 12-18 68.

FLORIDA (25-8)-Bonner 2-9 0-1 6, Walsh 2-6 0-0 5, Lee 5-8 6-7 16, Roberson 0-6 0-0 0, Hamilton 5-7 0-0 12, Boggan 0-0 0-0 0, Moss 1-1 0-0 2, Capko 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 0-4 0-0 0, Drejer 0-0 3-4 3, Al-Kaleem 0-0 0-0 0, Colas 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 16-43 9-12 46.

Halftime-Michigan St. 37-27. 3-Point Goals-Michigan St. 6-16 (Ager 2-5, Hill 2-5, Lorbek 2-5, Torbert 0-1), Florida 5-21 (Hamilton 2-2, Bonner 2-6, Walsh 1-3, Nelson 0-4, Roberson 0-6). Fouled out-Anagonye. Rebounds-Michigan St. 30 (Lorbek 7), Florida 22 (Bonner 6). Assists-Michigan St. 15 (Anderson 5), Florida 9 (Walsh 3). Total fouls-Michigan St. 18, Florida 20. A-21,304.

Texas 77, Purdue 67

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Triple-threat T.J. Ford and his Texas teammates are going home - to keep playing in the NCAA tournament, that is.

Ford shook loose in the second half and the Longhorns followed his lead, turning back Purdue 77-67 Sunday in the second round of the South Regional.

Considered by some to be the best guard in college basketball, Ford scored 21 points and added nine rebounds and eight assists.

The fast, 5-foot-10 Ford controlled the tempo down the stretch and fittingly dribbled out the final seconds, spiking the ball near midcourt at the buzzer.

Now, Ford and the top-seeded Longhorns (24-6) can return to Texas. They're headed to San Antonio, where they'll take on fifth-seeded Connecticut on Friday at the Alamodome.

James Thomas contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds and Royal Ivey had 14 points as Texas reached the round of 16 for the second straight year, a first for the program.

Willie Deane's disputed 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer put Purdue ahead 31-30 and sent the ninth-seeded Boilermakers running to the locker room shouting, "We're for real!"

But Deane, the team's leading scorer, missed all seven shots in the second half and finished only 4-for-17. Purdue (19-11) fell short of making the round of 16 for the fourth time in six seasons.

Ford, the sparkplug in an opening-round win over North Carolina Asheville, got off to an uncharacteristically slow start. Limited to five points and two assists with four turnovers at halftime, the Longhorns needed him to open up after the break, and he did.

Ford sneaked inside for a layup the first time he touched the ball, then shook loose with a sharp crossover dribble for another basket and a 34-33 edge.

After the teams seesawed for a bit, Ford gave Texas the lead for good midway through the second half with a three-point play that made it 52-50.

With the Longhorns leading 66-63, the normally emotionless Ford perked up, yelling, "Our ball! Our ball!" after a shot-clock violation.

Moments later, he was smiling after getting knocked down and sliding to the Texas bench on his backside. He was in even better spirits when the game ended despite shooting just 7-for-19.

Deane banked in a running, off-balance 3 from the right wing at the halftime buzzer - or a split-second after the horn, Texas coach Rick Barnes contended. Replays showed he was right.

Barnes stayed on the court to argue the call. He became animated and headed back toward the scorer's table, prompting two officials to step in front of him to prevent the coach from getting any closer to the man who made the call.

PURDUE (19-11)-Buscher 4-6 0-0 8, Booker 2-8 4-4 8, Deane 4-17 3-4 13, McKnight 5-10 0-0 10, Lowe 2-6 4-6 9, Teague 2-6 0-0 4, Kartelo 2-2 2-4 6, Buckley 2-6 0-0 6, Kiefer 0-1 3-6 3. Totals 23-62 16-24 67.

TEXAS (24-6)-Buckman 0-3 0-0 0, Thomas 3-6 5-6 11, Mouton 2-11 2-2 6, T.Ford 7-19 7-9 21, Ivey 4-6 5-6 14, Harris 2-4 0-0 6, Erskin 4-6 3-3 11, Klotz 1-1 0-0 2, Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Boddicker 2-6 0-0 6. Totals 25-62 22-26 77.

Halftime-Purdue 31-30. 3-Point Goals-Purdue 5-16 (Buckley 2-3, Deane 2-6, Lowe 1-3, Teague 0-4), Texas 5-11 (Boddicker 2-3, Harris 2-4, Ivey 1-1, Mouton 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Purdue 35 (Kartelo 8), Texas 40 (Thomas 12). Assists-Purdue 10 (Lowe 4), Texas 8 (T.Ford 8). Total fouls-Purdue 24, Texas 21. A-16,471.

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