Ager scores season-high 22; No. 1 Illinois next

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- After a 17-point win over a
less-talented opponent, Michigan State knows it must play better
next time out if it hopes to beat top-ranked Illinois.

But the Spartans (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) think they will be a better team in
Tuesday's Big Ten showdown with the unbeaten Illini than they were
in Saturday night's 92-75 win over Oakland (Mich.)

"It's a no-brainer that we've got to play better," Maurice
Ager said after scoring 22 points and making three of Michigan
State's nine 3-pointers. "That's the top-ranked team in the
country we're playing. And we have some things we need to work on
if we want to win that game."

Shannon Brown, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert each had 13 points
for the Spartans (14-3), who have won 11 of their last 12 games and
all 10 games this season at the Breslin Center, the site of
Tuesday's matchup.

"Honestly, if we play this way Tuesday, I think we'll come out
with a loss," Torbert said. "We didn't play as well as we need to
on both ends of the floor. We've got to play better than this
against Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. And I really think we will."

Cortney Scott, a Lansing native, had 19 points and Rawle
Marshall added 16 for the Golden Grizzlies (5-13), who lost their
eighth game against teams from bigger conferences, including an
85-54 defeat against Illinois.

"Tom [Izzo] might get mad at me for saying this," Oakland
coach Greg Kampe said. "I live in Michigan, and I'm a Michigan
person. But Illinois is the best team we've ever played in all my
years of doing this, including your national champions and Final
Four teams. Does that mean Michigan State wont beat them? No, I'll
bet Michigan State beats them. But Illinois is the best we've ever
played. They share the ball better than any team I've ever seen."

Izzo's team played without center Paul Davis, who rested his
sprained left ankle as a precaution but should be fine to face the

"If we held him out, he could practice these next two days,"
Izzo said on the eve of his 50th birthday. "If we didn't hold him
out, he would have to take tomorrow off. We can't afford that."

The Spartans led just 40-35 in the last minute of the first half
but finished the period with a 3-pointer from Torbert and went on a
15-2 run to start the second half.

Oakland was only 14-for-28 from the foul line but kept the score
respectable with 59.1 percent shooting from the field in the second

It was the first time Michigan State allowed more than 64 points
since Dec. 4.

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