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Clutching, grabbing, doing anything they could within the rules to stay close, the Billikens had the Spartans right where they wanted them.
Green was frustrated. After one play, the Spartans star complained to the officials that he was being undercut whenever he tried to post up down low.
The Billikens were in his head.
Still, despite nine turnovers and a slim rebounding advantage, Michigan State took a 26-21 lead into the locker room at halftime after holding the Billikens to one field goal over the final 9:11 and 24 percent shooting (5 of 21) in the first 20 minutes.
The Billikens knew they would have to control the tempo and make it an ugly game to have a chance at pulling off the upset.
The first few minutes were downright grotesque.
St. Louis missed its first seven shots and Michigan State wasn’t much more accurate, starting 4 of 13 as the Billkens’ defense pestered and frustrated the more talented Spartans.
Down 9-5, St. Louis went on a 10-2 run in which the Billikens did a little of everything. Cory Remekun outhustled all five Spartans for a loose ball in the lane got a putback; Rob Loe threw in a jumper as the shot clock expired; and Jordair Jett dropped a 3-pointer that sent St. Louis fans bouncing out of their seats and brought a smile from Majerus.
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