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BIG TEN Hill paces MSU past Buckeyes



Published: Thu, February 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Hot shooting night by Spartans guard leads to 83-69 Big Ten win.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State hadn't seen the old Chris Hill for more than a month. On Wednesday night, he was almost perfect from the field.

Not starting for just the third time in two years, Hill went 8-for-10 from the field and scored 26 points to lead the 13th-ranked Spartans to an 83-69 comeback victory over Ohio State.

Hill was 6-for-7 from 3-point range and made all four of his free throws in the top scoring performance this season for the Spartans (16-4, 7-2 Big Ten).

"It sure was nice to have No. 5 back," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of the fifth-leading 3-point shooter in Big Ten history.

"I can't tell you how good he feels and how good we feel to have him in a position that he can do something like that."

Return to form

Hill had shot just 34.8 percent from the field -- and 30 percent on 3s -- over the previous 10 games, when he scored in double figures just once. But back in a rhythm Wednesday, he didn't miss until a 3 rimmed out with 2:52 left.

"The law of averages had to figure in some time," Hill said with a wide smile. "To be honest, that last 3 felt better than any shot I took all night. But this was as satisfying a game as any I've had. I had to come through for the team tonight. That's why it felt so good."

Maurice Ager, who was bothered with flu-like symptoms, scored 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting for the Spartans, while Alan Anderson added 16 points and Paul Davis had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"It's a team sport, and a lot of guys helped pick us up," Davis said, after joking Monday that he would have to serve as Hill's new shooting coach. "But Chris got mad at himself. I think that's the biggest thing that happened. He kept working his way out of it. And we all had his back."

Terence Dials was 10-for-18 from the field and had 22 points for the Buckeyes (16-8, 5-5), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

"Michigan State is one of the best teams in the country and showed that tonight," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

"The blitz they put on at the beginning of the second half was probably the difference in the game. And Chris Hill put on a clinic tonight."

Quick second-half start

The Spartans scored the first six points of the second half to take a 47-43 lead and gradually stretched their lead by outshooting Ohio State 52.2 percent to 34.5 percent from the field over the last 20 minutes.

The Buckeyes led 43-41 at halftime after shooting 63 percent from the field, including a 6-for-8 effort from Dials. Hill had 15 points in the first half.

The Spartans finished with a 40-24 rebounding edge and had 21 assists, including seven by Drew Neitzel in his second start in place of Hill at point guard.

"That was about as proud of a team as I've been in a while here, as far as how we got the win," Izzo said. "It was a workmanlike win, a win like those we used to have. And Maurice Ager deserves a purple heart. He was sicker than a dog this morning. I didn't know if he was going to play at all, but he battled back."




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