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All to themselves: Spartans beat UNC-Asheville to claim Big Ten record for home winning streak

December 18, 2001

The No. 17 Spartans are still rolling.

With a 76-56 win over UNC-Asheville on Monday at Breslin Center, the nation’s longest home winning streak stayed alive at 51, breaking the Big Ten record once held jointly by Ohio State (1959-63) and Indiana (1991-95).

But the score may be deceiving.

“This was not a 20-point game,” head coach Tom Izzo said.

The MSU men’s basketball team entered the game looking less enthusiastic than it did Saturday against then-No. 6 Arizona - when the Spartans tied the Big Ten record with win No. 50 - and the team’s lack of energy was reflected in its play.

“We kind of hold ourselves to a different level than that,” MSU junior forward Adam Ballinger said. “UNC-Asheville played good and we have to give credit to them, but we have built a program here that every night we expect to come out and play with the intensity and fire that we (are known for).”

For a team known for its defense and rebounding strength, MSU didn’t control the boards true to form. UNC-Asheville out-rebounded the Spartans 23-22 in the first half. For the game, the Bulldogs defeated the Spartans on the offensive glass, waxing 15 to the green and white’s 12 offensive boards.

UNC-Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach said he didn’t expect his team to rebound at that level.

“We’re not a real good rebounding team, but our guys did the best they could,” Biedenbach said.

UNC-Asheville would not leave the Spartans alone, bringing the game within five at the half with a two-pointer by guard Brandon Carter.

MSU surged a bit in the second, scoring the first four points of the half.

Freshman guard Kelvin Torbert’s finger roll at the 19:06 mark started the Spartans off, but UNCA forward Robby Joyner’s layup at 17:19 brought the game within nine.

The Spartans held off any chance for the Bulldogs to snap their winning streak by keeping a 27-23 point advantage with 3:45 remaining. In the final 3:45, the Spartans compiled a 11-1 run sparked by an inside-out play by MSU junior forward Al Anagonye and Torbert.

At 3:17, Torbert flung an entry pass into Anagonye, and cut to the left where an Anagonye pass was delivered for a slam - 67-55.

Torbert also controlled the Spartans’ next possession with a quick penetration move to the middle for a one handed flick into the net.

The final scoring chance for the Bulldogs came with 56 seconds remaining when UNC-Asheville guard Andre Smith was fouled by MSU sophomore guard Marcus Taylor, but only one free throw was converted.

In the first half, the Spartans started out the game 3-0 off a quick Taylor three-pointer 20 seconds into the contest. Freshman guard-forward Alan Anderson joined the quick scoring punch with a shot his own to give MSU a 5-0 advantage at the 17:50 mark.

UNC-Asheville answered the Taylor-Anderson charge with a Smith three-point tally.

Ballinger led all scorers with 17 points. UNC-Asheville had three players with 11 points: Joyner, guard Brandon Carter and forward Joseph Barber.

The Spartans play Oakland on Wednesday at Breslin.

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