MSU pulls away late to beat Oakland at packed LCA
Detroit – Michigan State knew it would get Oakland’s best shot on Saturday, and the No. 2 team in the nation got just that.
The Golden Grizzlies pushed the Spartans to the limit, leading in the second half before Michigan State took control late to earn the 86-73 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,645 at Little Caesars Arena.
Detroit native Cassius Winston took over late, scoring the final 14 points for the Spartans to finish with 19. Joshua Langford also scored 17 for Michigan State (10-1) while Nick Ward added 15 points and 15 rebounds while Miles Bridges scored 11 and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 10.
It was Michigan State’s 16th straight victory over Oakland, which has never beaten the Spartans.
BOX SCORE: Michigan State 86, Oakland 73
The Golden Grizzlies gave it their best shot as Kendrick Nunn scored 32 on a bad ankle while Jalen Hayes scored 14 and Martez Walker had 13 for Oakland (6-5).
Michigan State used a 9-0 run to break things open midway through the first half, turning a 22-19 lead into a 31-19 advantage with 6:17 to play in the half after a Matt McQuaid 3-pointer.
But Oakland switched to a zone on defense and it created issues for the Spartans, who turned the ball over nine times in the first half.
The Grizzlies took advantage as Nunn sparked a 14-5 run over the next five minutes to trim the deficit to 36-33 with less than a minute to play. Ward’s tip-in with 25.3 seconds left capped off the scoring as the Spartans led, 38-33, at the break.
The second half is when things got interesting.
Oakland took its first lead of the second half when Walker hit a three and was fouled, completing a four-point play to put the Grizzlies up, 45-44, with 16:55 to play. From there, the battle was on between the Grizzlies and Spartans.
Oakland went ahead, 55-52, on another Nunn three but after a Langford runner, Bridges was fouled on a runout and tempers flared. It seemed to wake up some of the Spartans as Winston hit a runner, Bridges nailed a jumper and Winston a three to make it 63-58 with 10:11 to play.
The Grizzlies were able to pull even again at 66-66 after a triple from Hayes, just his second of the season, with eight minutes to play. After a Jackson 3 put MSU up three, Walker scored on a layup off a turnover followed by a Bridges 3-pointer that put the Spartans ahead, 72-68 with just more than four minutes to play.
The Spartans started to pull away on two straight triples from Winston to push the lead to 10 with less than three minutes to play. Winston scored the final 14 points of the game for the Spartans, who won despite turning the ball over 17 times.