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Michigan State: 5 keys to victory

By RODNEY PAGE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003

1. DON'T PANIC: This might as well be a home game for Florida, so Michigan State will have to block out the crowd. The Gators will go on scoring spurts and how the Spartans react will be crucial. If Michigan State gets rattled, it could get out of hand quickly.

2. LIMIT TURNOVERS: Florida likes to play a full-court press defense, which puts pressure on the guards. Chris Hill and Alan Anderson are prone to turnovers, and as a team Michigan State averages more than 14 a game. Keeping that number under double digits will be crucial.

3. KEEP THE BENCH INVOLVED: Michigan State used 10 players in its opening round win over Colorado, which eventually wore down the Buffaloes. Freshman forward Paul Davis scored 10 off the bench, and power forward Adam Ballinger is another key reserve. Depth is crucial against an equally deep Florida team.

4. REBOUND!: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo does not like to lose the rebounding statistic. In 32 games, the Spartans were outrebounded six times. Against Colorado, the Spartans outrebounded the Buffaloes 38-35 and had 28 defensive rebounds. If they can hold Florida to few second chances and gather some offensive rebounds, they have a chance.

5. STAY HOT AT THE STRIPE: The Spartans played the halfcourt game well against Colorado, which resulted in 25 free-throw attempts. They converted 20, which was key in the win. MSU converts more than 73 percent of its free throws. Florida is not afraid to bang underneath, so when fouled, the Spartans must make a high percentage.

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