No. 15 Michigan St 67, No. 25 Oklahoma 55

Thursday, November 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Adam Ballinger was more nervous talking during a postgame interview than he was when shooting or rebounding.

Ballinger set career highs of 13 points and nine rebounds as No. 15 Michigan State beat No. 25 Oklahoma 67-55 Wednesday night in the Preseason NIT, extending the nation's longest home winning streak to 46 games.

``Seriously, I was sweating when I had to talk with those TV guys on the court after the game,'' Ballinger said. ``I'm so used to seeing other guys do that. This time, I was in the spotlight and it was a little nerve-racking, but hopefully I can get used to that.''

The Spartans (2-0) will play No. 21 Syracuse in the semifinals of the 16-team tournament on Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Marcus Taylor had 12 points and nine assists in Michigan State's second-round victory. Adam Wolfe and Aloysius Anagonye added 10 each.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was not pleased with the play of Taylor, who made just 5-of-13 shots and fouled out, or Anagonye, who grabbed just two rebounds in 25 minutes.

He also was bothered by the Spartans' 20 turnovers.

``We're not going to win a lot of games that way,'' Izzo said. ``We're not going to win on the road unless we have some key people play better.''

Hollis Price led the Sooners (1-1) with 18 points. Ebi Ere, a junior-college transfer who was recruited by Michigan State, had 16 points and six rebounds.

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson was not surprised by Ballinger's performance because he didn't know what to expect _ good or bad _ from the former role player.

``I hadn't seen him play before Monday,'' said Sampson, referring to Michigan State's win over Detroit. ``But if he's in Michigan State's lineup, he's a good player.''

The Spartans still have not trailed this season, but they were tied after the opening tip-off for the first time. The Sooners evened the game at 39 early in the second half.

After the two rugged teams traded baskets for a few minutes, the Spartans went on an 11-2 run to take a 55-44 lead and control of the game for good with 6:55 left.

The Sooners didn't get closer than eight.

Michigan State made 56.1 percent of its shots while and held the Sooners to 32.3 percent shooting.

Each time Michigan State built an eight- or 10-point lead in the first half, the Sooners would make stops and shots to keep it close. The Spartans led 33-28 at halftime.

Ballinger, a redshirt junior, had nine points and seven rebounds in the first half alone _ both totals were one short of his career high. He averaged 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds over 8.2 minutes last season.

``We've seen him play like this in practice, so it was nice to see him put together a game like that,'' Izzo said. ``We've also known he could shoot, but what I'm really pleased with is his rebounding.''

Michigan State and Oklahoma last met in the Sweet 16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans won _ in a game remembered for the head-knocking collision between Mateen Cleaves and Eduardo Najera _ before losing to Duke in the Final Four.

Sampson, who is in his eighth season with the Sooners, was a Michigan State graduate assistant under Jud Heathcote when the Spartans won the 1979 national championship.