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Championship Form

Michigan State cruises past Florida, 68-46, in rematch of 2000 national final teams.

March 24, 2003|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Turns out, Michigan State didn't need Anthony Roberson -- or any help at all, really.

Michigan State, stung and shocked when Roberson chose Florida over the home-state Spartans, held the freshman guard scoreless Sunday as part of a stunningly easy 68-46 victory over the Gators in the second round.

Getting playing time that might have otherwise gone to Roberson, freshman guard Maurice Ager scored 16 points to help the seventh-seeded Spartans (22-11) win in a rematch of the schools in 2000 championship game, also won by Michigan State.

Tom Izzo's team advanced to a game with defending champion Maryland in the South Regional semifinals Friday at San Antonio.

Florida, meanwhile, can forget the Alamodome.

The second-seeded Gators (25-8) failed to get past the first weekend of the tournament for the third consecutive year -- and failed to break 50 points for the first time in Coach Billy Donovan's seven seasons. They closed what had looked like a promising season -- they were ranked No. 1 in the nation Feb. 3 -- with four losses in five games.

Seniors Matt Bonner, Brett Nelson and Justin Hamilton ended their last season the same way they ended their first -- as dispirited losers to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament.

Led by Ager's six-for-nine shooting and Erazem Lorbek's four-for-seven effort, Michigan State shot 55% from the field -- 70% in the first half when it took a 37-27 lead. The Spartans are shooting 50% in the tournament after making 45% of their attempts in the regular season.

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