Oakland, Calif. - An undersized MSU squad took a noticeable step backward in a 75-64 loss to No. 16 Stanford on Saturday night in the Pete Newell Challenge.
The no. 13 Spartans , who were without junior forward Adam Ballinger for the second straight game, struggled to find an inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Ballinger is out for at least two weeks with a severely sprained ankle.
Cardinal center Curtis Borchardt carried the load for Stanford with 27 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots.
He gutted MSUs defense with a series of aggressive drives to the basket and led a 15-4 scoring run in the games final five minutes.
Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery was impressed with how his team (7-2) responded against its first ranked opponent of the season.
We gave an incredible effort out there, Montgomery said. It was the best we have played all year. I think we matched MSU nose-to-nose.
Junior forward Al Anagonye said the loss hurts MSU (9-4) in more ways than just the teams record.
It was a flat-out insult, Anagonye said of the teams performance. We all have to get tougher. As a leader, I have to help us get ready and get back to playing the way are capable of playing.
After leading by as much as 12 midway through the first half after a three-pointer by sophomore guard Marcus Taylor, the Spartans struggled to find scoring opportunities.
Taylor finished with a team high 21 points, scoring 15 in the first half against a Stanford 2-3 zone.
But it was Stanfords switch to man-to-man coverage in the second half that made the difference, Taylor said.
Their guards really put a lot of pressure on me, Taylor said. I had a tough time getting the ball inside and it showed. We all have to look at this loss as motivation to get tougher.
One positive from the loss was the play of sophomore forward Adam Wolfe, who showed an improved outside shooting touch.
Wolfe finished with 11 points and converted on a four-point play with less than nine minutes remaining to give MSU its last lead of the game, 53-50.
Despite having some efficiency from the outside, Wolfe said he was disappointed he couldnt score more inside.
I didnt play aggressive enough out there, Wolfe said. For us to win we have to have some kind of scoring in the paint, and it was pretty much nonexistent tonight. Its just not acceptable.
MSU struggled with some of its worst statistics in recent memory, only attempting five free throws and getting out-rebounded 32-22 before a largely Spartan crowd.
The football team and 300-member Spartan Marching Band and were among the crowd. MSU football takes on Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Football Classic on Monday in San Jose.
Spartan head coach Tom Izzo said his teams performance was uncharacteristic of the program hes been trying to build the past seven seasons.
It was men against boys out there, Izzo said, And it didnt help that our leading rebounder was out because of an injury.
The nightmares are only going to continue unless we get healthy.
The Spartans next game is Jan. 5, when they travel to Minnesota to start the Big Ten season.