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January 15, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. ? Drew Neitzel scored eight of 13 points in the first half, helping No. 11 Michigan State start strong and regroup from a humiliating performance with a 66-60 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday night.
The Spartans (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) led by as many as 21 points in the first half and held off the Buckeyes in the second half in a bounceback game after being held to their lowest point total in more than a half-century.
Jamar Butler scored 21 points to give Ohio State (12-5, 3-2) a shot to stay in the game with an inspired second half after making just one-third of its shots in the first half. None of his teammates scored more than eight points.
Neitzel helped the Spartans open with two runs to take a 27-7 lead with 3 minutes left in the half. Ohio State rallied to pull with 34-21 at halftime.
The Buckeyes started the second half with a 13-3 run to pull within three, making six of their first seven shots, and didn't go away quietly despite trailing by eight points with 3 minutes left.
Ohio State has dropped two straight after winning eight in a row, including a 3-0 record to open Big Ten play.
Raymar Morgan, Michigan State's leading scorer, was held to single digits for the first time this season. After averaging nearly 18 points, he scored his first points with 13 1/2 minutes left, then he picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench for about 8 minutes. Naymick's season high in points helped to make up for Morgan finishing with just six.
Coming off one of its worst games in years, Michigan State and Neitzel got the strong start they needed.
The Spartans led 11-3 after Neitzel made two 3-pointers and Ohio State made only one of its first nine shots. The preseason All-American entered the game shooting just 27.3 percent from the field, including 18.8 percent from 3-point range, in conference play.
After the Buckeyes ended a 6-minute scoring drought, Michigan State dominated inside and out at both ends of the court during a 16-2 run to build a huge cushion.
Ohio State outscored Michigan State 10-2 to close the half, cutting its deficit to 13 points.
In only a half, Michigan State scored just two fewer points than it had in its previous game at Iowa despite its leading scorer going scoreless because seven players scored and Neitzel snapped out of a shooting slump.
The Spartans' reserves outscored the Buckeyes' bench 19-6 in the first half and Michigan State turned eight offensive rebounds into 10 points.