WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tom Izzo was relieved his Michigan State team
escaped with a 66-60 victory over George Mason on Sunday in the
consolation game of the BB&T Classic.
"I'll be honest with you, it was a hard game to play in for
us," said the coach of the Spartans (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP), who snapped a
two-game losing streak. "I think we had looked forward to
hopefully getting a shot at Maryland in the championship game. When
you come to a tournament like this as a ranked team, you don't want
to play in the consolation game.
"I don't look at our lack of beating them by more than that as
the end of the world. Number one I give credit to them and number
two I understand how hard it is to play in a consolation game."
"We kind of put it on Alan to be there on the boards and he had
a couple of big tip-ins," Izzo said.
"Our mindset needs to be defensive rebounding," Anderson
added. "If we stick to that it can take us a long way."
Lamar Butler led the Patriots (3-3) with 19 points, while Jai
Lewis added 12 points and eight rebounds.
George Mason was facing a ranked opponent for the second
consecutive game and the third time this season, both firsts in
school history. The Patriots lost 78-54 to No. 12 Maryland in the
opening round at the MCI Center.
"The next time we probably play a team of that national caliber
it would be in the NCAA tournament," George Mason coach Jim
Larranaga said. "That's ultimately our goal."
Butler scored 11 of the first 15 points in the second half for
the Patriots, who trailed by nine points with 14:58 to go.
Lewis' inside basket with 9:26 left got George Mason within
51-49, but Lewis missed the free throw to convert a three-point
play. John Vaughn's fast-break basket cut the Spartans' lead to
56-55 with 4:59 remaining.
Davis and Anderson scored to make it 62-57 before Vaughn
converted a 3 from the left corner with 23 seconds left, pulling
the Patriots within four points.
"We should've put them away early," Davis said. "I think we
were up by 15. Against athletic, quick teams like this in a
tournament like this, we have to put teams away when we get up on
top. It was the story of last year and it's starting to come
The Patriots closed the first half on a 11-2 run to get within
Michigan State lost at Duke earlier in the week.