Nov. 8, 2006
East Lansing, Michigan - Playing against the against the iron of the Big 10 Conference, Brown opened its season by battling Michigan State to the final minute before succumbing to the Spartans, 45-34, in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, played at the Spartans' Breslin Center.
The game marked the coaching debut of Brown coach Craig Robinson, the former Ivy Player of the Year at Princeton and Northwestern assistant coach.
"We have to play a perfect game against a team like Michigan State to have a chance to win," said Robinson. "While I'm pleased with the effort, I'm disappointed with the outcome. We can't be satisfied with playing even for just a half."
Brown's tenacious defense frustrated the Spartans throughout the game, and the Bears trailed by just five points, 37-32, on a three-point basket by junior Mark MacDonald with 4:54 left to play. The Bears missed a few opportunities in the next minute and a half, including a one-and-one, before the Spartans made it a seven point game, 39-32, with 3:28 left to play on Travis Walton's jump shot.
After falling behind by nine points, Brown got to within seven points again, 41-34, on junior Keenan Jeppesen's layup with 44 seconds left on the clock.
The 45 points allowed by the Bears were the fewest by a Brown team since 1997 when Princeton scored 44 points. In the end, it was Michigan State who matched Brown's defensive effort, holding the Bears to 29 percent (7 of 22) shooting from the field.
"Brown is a tough team to prepare for because they do so many things with their system," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "Give Craig a lot of credit. He had his team running the offense with just a few weeks of practice as well as Northwestern ran its offense."
The first half was played at Brown's pace with the Bears staying within striking distance for most of the half. Trailing by four points, 18-14 with 7:05 left in the half following a three-point basket by sophomore Scott Friske.
The Spartans went on a mini-run 6-0 run to grab a 24-14 lead with 4:14 to play in the half, but the Bears hung tough and trailed by a 26-16 margin at intermission.
Brown was paced by junior guard Mark McAndrew, who scored 8 points and grabbed five rebounds. MacDonald and Jeppesen added six points each for Brown, while Jeppesen also pulled down five rebounds.
The Spartans were led by sophomore Maurice Joseph, who scored a game high 12 points. Freshman Morgan Raymar also scored in double figures with 10 points and pulled down a game high six rebounds.
Brown will play Central Michigan in second round action of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Thursday at 4:30 p.m., again at the Breslin Center. Michigan State will play Youngstown State at 7:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.