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Ager, Davis lead No. 15 Spartans to first Big Ten win

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Maurice Ager and Paul Davis were
challenged publicly and privately by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
after two poor games.

They responded.

Ager scored 28 points and Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds to
lead the Spartans (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) to their first Big Ten win, 87-73
over Indiana (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) on Wednesday night.

Michigan State (13-4, 1-2) bounced back from two straight
double-digit losses because Ager and Davis were tough to stop after
struggling in those setbacks. Ager and Davis combined for 34 points
at Illinois (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP) and Wisconsin (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP).

"It's a no-brainer, we can't win if me and Paul both play
bad," Ager said.

That's essentially what Izzo told reporters, and the standout
seniors.

"That's what you're supposed to do with good players that have
been around for four years," Izzo said. "I do spend a lot of time
with them, and I tell them, 'I'm not going to make excuses for
you.'

"I did not think I went after either player. I just said they
didn't play well. If a guy can't take that, whether he's in college
or the pros, something is wrong."

Marco Killingsworth had 27 points and Robert Vaden added 20 for
the Hoosiers (10-3, 2-1), who had won six straight and reached
their highest ranking since Dec. 16, 2002.

"In the second half, we had no energy on the defensive end,"
Vaden said. "I don't know why we didn't come out and fight."

The Spartans made 64 percent of their shots after halftime as
they outscored Indiana by 12.

Michigan State went ahead for good midway through the first half
and pulled away with a 10-0 run, taking a 76-60 lead with 3:34
left.

"It's not the end of the world when you're 0-2, but who's
kidding who? Everybody was down," Izzo said. "It wasn't a
monstrous step, but we beat a good team. That's the fifth Top Ten
team we've played, and the third we've beaten."

Matt Trannon scored a career-high 11 points, helping the
Spartans beat the Hoosiers for the 12th straight time at home.

Indiana was without standout forward D.J. White, who injured his
left foot in the previous game after breaking it earlier this
season. White wore a shirt, tie, slacks and a protective boot, and
cheered on one foot at times from the end of the bench.

"With him breaking it on Saturday, it was devastating to him,
and some of his teammates," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "When
he came back, we were a Top 5 team, that's what (the players) were
saying and feeling.

"I could kind of see it, our guys were down today without
him."

The Hoosiers were also without guard Lewis Monroe, who was
coming off a strong game, because of an undisclosed health
condition. Davis hoped Monroe could return for the next game,
Tuesday against Illinois.

"Lewis not being there with his toughness and presence, that
really bothered our guys, too," Davis said, "They're looking
around, and they're without two starters."

The Hoosiers shot 54.7 percent, snapping a 30-game winning
streak when making at least half of their shots, dating to a loss
at Ohio State on Jan. 19, 2002.

Michigan State connected on 58.8 percent of its shots and
outrebounded Indiana 29-18.

"They made shots and when they missed the shot, they got the
offensive rebound," Davis said. "We couldn't contain them."

The Hoosiers got off to a good start, with Vaden making two
3-pointers before Michigan State took a shot and they led 17-10.

Michigan State made it 19-all with a 9-2 run and later went
ahead for the first time, with 8:24 left in the first half. The
Spartans led 41-39 at halftime.

As much as Izzo prodded Davis and Ager to play like they had
during the nonconference season, the players also pushed each other
to bounce back.

"It was one of those mutual things," Davis said. "We said,
'We can't let our team go down like this, and we can't let each
other go out like this as seniors."