EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Michigan State got off to a fast start, and so did its fans.
Crowds flocked to the streets and flooded the Breslin Center floor even before the NCAA championship game was over in Indianapolis on Monday night, celebrating the school’s first national championship in 21 years.
``To be here and be a part of this is so great,″ said Amanda Grube, a junior from Canton.
``We won! We won! We won!″ one group chanted after the Spartans’ 89-76 victory over Florida.
Police said about 15,000 people gathered to celebrate outside the Cedar Village apartment complex, with a similar size crowd gathering downtown. People were high-fiving, chanting the school fight song and waving flags. Fireworks went off, drivers honked their horns and students waved from balconies.
``This moment right now, this place right here, is the best place and the best time to be,″ said Mike Ansted, financial consultant from Toledo, Ohio, and a ’96 grad.
Students body surfed through the dense crowd. One student had a Florida Gator hanging by the neck from a pole. Three men had the letters M-S-U painted on their stomachs. Students held up newspapers with banner headlines proclaiming the Spartans as national champions.
``It’s pretty rowdy, but so far, so good,″ said Dawn Gonzales, 23, a nursing student.
There were reports of some injuries from thrown bottles and cans, but no serious injuries.
``Considering the number of people we have here, the number of problems has been very light,″ police Lt. Tom Johnstone said.
About 80 minutes after the victory, eight people had been arrested on indecent exposure, disorderly conduct or alcohol-related charges, Lt. Kevin Daley said.
After Michigan State’s loss to Duke in last year’s semifinals, more than 10,000 people ran through East Lansing. Some rioters overturned cars, set bonfires, broke windows and smashed parking meters.
Police eventually arrested 132 people. Of the 113 later convicted, 94 went to jail.
Daley said the celebration immediately following Monday night’s victory was large and peaceful.
``It appears to be a joyous celebration. One of our people there said it was the largest crowd he had ever seen in the village,″ he said.
The celebration following Saturday’s semifinal victory over Wisconsin also was much calmer. That crowd reached about 2,000 at its height, East Lansing Police Sgt. Ray Hellmann said.
Eight of the 30 arrested that night were Michigan State students, Hellmann said. The arrests were for crimes including disorderly conduct, indecent exposure and alcohol possession.
On Monday, most of the revelers were just enjoying the moment. Freshman Brandon Rohrbaugh of Baltimore smoked a cigar in celebration.
``This feels good. I had my moments when I thought they might lose but when (A.J.) Granger kept hitting those 3s, I knew we were going to win in it,″ he said.
One side of Grand River, the main thoroughfare through campus, was closed. Some people were riding on top of a moving bus.
``The game was awesome to watch. The only thing that would have been better would have been watching it in Indianapolis,″ said Joe Turnquist, a 26-year-old alumnus.
At the Breslin Center, where thousands watched the game on four big screens, some who ran onto the Michigan State home floor tried to pull down the nets.