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Sloppy Play

Michigan State was fortunate to overcome some sloppy play and beat a lesser opponent in its most recent game.

The No. 12 Spartans, though, know they need to improve starting Monday when they face Missouri in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Michigan State -4 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 86% of bets for this game have been placed on Michigan State -4 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

After dominating in a 33-point win over Chicago State to open the season Tuesday, Michigan State (2-0) trailed early in the second half against Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday before pulling away for an 83-65 victory.

The Spartans committed 20 turnovers, shot 31.3 percent (5-for-16) from 3-point range and blew a 12-point halftime lead at home. Michigan State was behind 57-56 with 13:46 left, but scored 11 straight points and held the Warhawks scoreless for 6 minutes, 42 seconds.

"We are not taking very good care of the ball now," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "That's concerning so, I have some ways we can remedy that."

Izzo hopes his team tightens things up against Missouri (3-0), which returns four starters from last season's 18-12 team and was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12.

The winner of Monday's matchup of unbeatens won't have it easy, as it will face No. 2 UCLA or Maryland in Tuesday's championship game.

Sophomore forward Raymar Morgan had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Spartans on Wednesday to follow up a 25-point, 15-board effort against Chicago State. Morgan, who averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, has started strong despite feeling ill.

"Maybe I need to stay sick, I don't know,'' Morgan said.

Freshman guard Chris Allen scored 17 points and could take some of the scoring load off preseason All-American Drew Neitzel, who had 15 points and five assists against Louisiana-Monroe.

"Last year there was a lot of pressure for me to score,'' said Neitzel, who averaged 18.1 points in 2006-07. "Now, we have such balance. And I'm all for it. I'm sure we'll have games this season when I'm the No. 1 option.''

Michigan State has not faced Missouri since snapping a four-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 79-61 win on Dec. 15, 1984.

Missouri, which leads the all-time series with the Spartans 4-2, is coming off a 95-50 win over Southern on Friday.

Forward DeMarre Carroll continued his strong start with 18 points and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-7 transfer from Vanderbilt is averaging a team-leading 19.0 points and 8.3 boards through three games.

The Tigers, who have not been to the NCAA tournament since reaching the second round in 2002-03, are looking to start 4-0 for the second straight season.

"Michigan State is a very exciting team with the way their playing. They're playing with a lot of confidence," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "We've got a tremendous challenge. We have our work cut out for us. We are the little guy in this tournament."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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