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Michigan State keys to victory

By Compiled by BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 3, 2000

1) DEFENSE NEVER RESTS: The Spartans' tenacious man-to-man defense has held teams to an average of 58.5 points (ninth nationally) on 39.2 percent shooting. It's been even better in the NCAA Tournament, allowing an average of 52.4 points.

2) CONSERVE FUEL: Although they prefer an up-tempo game, the Spartans don't have the Gators' depth and can't afford to run out of gas down the stretch as Duke and North Carolina did.

3) MORE THAN JUST MO: Forward Morris Peterson is having a stellar tournament (16.8 points on 48.3 percent shooting), but the Spartans will need others to step up offensively, namely forward A.J. Granger and guard Charlie Bell.

4) DOMINATE THE BOARDS: The Spartans lead the nation in rebounding margin (plus- 12), but they've been less dominant in the tournament (plus-6.2). Controlling the defensive boards not only will give the ever-dangerous Gators fewer shots, but prevent them from setting up their press.

5) BENCH PRODUCTION: The Spartans' top three reserves, forward Mike Chappell, guard/forward Jason Richardson and forward Al Anagonye, have combined to score 34 points in the NCAA Tournament. That's an average of 6.8 points and that won't cut it.

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