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Michigan State sneaks past Oakland

Dec 12, 2010 - 4:39 AM Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Kalin Lucas scored his 25th point on a free throw with 4.6 seconds left and that proved to be the difference, as seventh-ranked Michigan State held on for a 77-76 victory over Oakland at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

After Korie Lucious hit two from the line to give the Spartans a 76-70 edge with 12 seconds to play, Reggie Hamilton drilled a three-pointer to pull the Grizzlies within three. Lucas was then fouled and missed the first free throw before calmly draining the second for a four-point lead. Hamilton added another three-pointer just before the buzzer to account for final margin.

Lucas finished 10-of-12 from the stripe for Michigan State (7-3), which bounced back from Tuesday's 72-58 loss to Syracuse at Madison Square Garden with another struggling effort. Durrell Summers and Keith Appling each scored 12 points for the Spartans, while Draymond Green contributed 11 points with five assists and five rebounds.

Larry Wright scored 21 points for Oakland (5-5), which had won four in a row before starting a three-game stretch against ranked opponents with a 74-63 loss at Illinois on Wednesday. The Grizzlies will finish the ranked run on Tuesday at Tennessee.

"We were that close. It's really disappointing we couldn't get this [win]," Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said. "We'll learn from it."

Keith Benson posted a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds in defeat for the defending Summit League champs, who are again the conference preseason favorites.

Oakland led Illinois for 25 minutes on Wednesday and had Michigan State on the ropes Saturday.

The game was tied at 39-39 early in the second half, but the Spartans scored the next 10 points to open some breathing room. The Grizzlies quickly cut their deficit to four at 51-47 with 13 minutes left and got as close as two a few times down the stretch.

A layup by Will Hudson pulled Oakland within 64-62 with just over four minutes left, but Lucas answered with a three-pointer for Michigan State. Two free throws by Green with 1:23 to play extended the Spartan advantage to 71-64, but the Grizzlies hung tough and trailed just 73-70 after a layup by Hudson with 23 seconds remaining.

Summers was fouled immediately on the inbounds play and made the first of two free throws. After missing the second, Green came up with the offensive rebound, leading to Lucious' two free throws and the close finish.

Lucious finished with just four points, all on free throws, as he went 0-for-8 from the field. The Spartans shot just 40.3 percent, but turned it over only eight times after entering the contest averaging 17.8 turnovers per game.

"I have to admit we still look like a very tired team," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "But I thought we played awfully well."

Michigan State built a 24-19 lead nine minutes into the game, but Oakland responded with a 9-1 run and moved in front on a three-pointer by Wright with just over eight minutes to play before the intermission.

Benson's jumper with just under five minutes left in the half gave the Grizzlies a 32-30 edge, but Michigan State responded with seven of the next eight points and took a 37-33 lead on a three-pointer by Summers with just over a minute left.

Michigan State managed to head to the locker room with a 39-35 lead.

Game Notes

Benson also had three blocked shots...The Grizzlies made just 11-of-20 free throws, while the Spartans finished 21-of-28 from the line...Michigan State improved to 10-0 all-time against Oakland...The Grizzlies dropped to 1-26 all- time against ranked opponents. In addition to the previous two games, they also lost to Purdue in November and will play Ohio State, currently ranked second, on December 23...Michigan State improved to 10-2 at the Palace.