Oakland, Mich.-Michigan St. PreviewDec 10, 2009 - 4:17 PM By KATE HEDLIN STATS Writer
Oakland (4-4) at Michigan State (7-2), 7:00 p.m. EDT
Michigan State struggled to put away a non-conference opponent on the road in its last game. The Spartans have looked much more comfortable at home against such teams in recent years.
The No. 12 Spartans try to win their 45th consecutive non-conference home game when they take on Oakland, Mich. on Thursday night.
Michigan State (7-2) is coming off a 69-56 win at The Citadel on Monday. The Spartans were frustrated by the pesky Bulldogs, who hit 12 of 20 3-point attempts and their first seven to stay close. Michigan State led by only five with 8:16 remaining, finally pulling away after that with a 6-0 run.
"They were hitting 3s, but we didn't panic," said forward Raymar Morgan, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. "We kept with our offense and kept executing."
Morgan, limited by a groin injury at the start of the season, has averaged 16.3 points while shooting 69.2 percent in four games since being held scoreless in a loss to Florida on Nov. 27.
Kalin Lucas led the Spartans with 17 points Monday and Michigan State turned up the defensive intensity after the break, holding The Citadel to 30.8 percent from the field in the second half after it shot 47.8 percent in the first.
"I thought the second half we played pretty well," coach Tom Izzo said. "It was a tough environment. We didn't respond great early but I thought we responded pretty well late and I thought the last five minutes we executed as well as we have all year."
The visit to The Citadel was Michigan State's second true road game in the last five contests, but fourth away from home during that stretch. Izzo cited that as part of the reason for what he views as a continuing chemistry problem and lack of energy.
"Some of our problems are me again," Izzo said, referencing his scheduling. "It's not just who you schedule, it's when and how you schedule. ... I put the players through hell and then get mad at them when they don't play well."
Michigan State plays its next two games at home and is off after this one until Dec. 19, when it faces IPFW following a break for finals.
The Spartans' 44-game home winning streak against non-conference foes started after a loss to then-No. 6 Duke on Dec. 3, 2003. In their five wins at the Breslin Center this season, they held opponents to 62.2 points a game and no better than 39 percent shooting.
Michigan State is the second Big Ten school Oakland (4-4) will face this season. The Golden Grizzlies lost 58-42 at Wisconsin on Nov. 18.
They are coming off an 84-76 victory over IPFW in their Summit League opener Saturday. Jonathon Jones scored 21 points while Keith Benson had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
The 6-foot-11 Benson is one of three Oakland players averaging double figures in points. He leads the team with 17.3 points, 10.6 boards and 3.9 blocks per game.
Oakland lost its last two matchups with ranked teams, the most recent an 89-59 defeat to No. 1 Kansas on Nov. 25.
The first of those losses came against the then-No. 11 Spartans, 82-66 on Dec. 27 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Benson had a game-high 20 points and added two blocks.
Michigan State is 8-0 in the series with Oakland and 6-0 in East Lansing.
- OAKLAND (57)
fg ft rb
min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp
D Nelson 28 1-5 0-0 1-2 2 1 2
L Wright 23 2-10 0-0 0-0 2 4 5
K Benson 34 7-15 7-7 4-11 0 3 21
J Jones 36 4-11 0-0 0-4 2 2 9
W Hudson 27 2-4 0-0 3-4 1 2 4
D Valentine 10 0-2 0-0 1-3 0 0 0
Dec 11 5:22 AM
- NCAA BB
MICHIGAN ST (12) 45 HALFTIME
Dec 10 7:51 PM
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