Despite not having the services of several key players for all or part of Friday’s game, the No. 1 Michigan State basketball team (7-0) still managed to blow out the visiting Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (2-6), 98-65.
MSU sophomore guard Gary Harris sat the game out Friday due to a nagging ankle injury, while MSU head coach Tom Izzo sat fellow starters Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, and Adreian Payne at the beginning of the game, all for skipping a class.
Michigan State was led by Denzel Valentine (15 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds), while Travis Trice added 15 points and 6 assists and Appling chipped in with a 17 point, 5 assist performance off the bench.
In the first half, Mount St. Mary’s hung around for a long time, as both teams came out firing away from the 3-point line, keeping it as close as four, 35-31, with less than six minutes to go in the half.
And no player came out firing away from behind the arc as much as Mountaineer freshman guard Will Miller did, who connected on five 3-pointers to finish the first half with 15 points that kept Mount St. Mary’s within striking distance, as they trailed the Spartans 50-38 at the break.
However, to start the second half, Michigan State opened up on a 20-5 run to take a 70-43 with 12:04 to go in the game. From there, the Spartans would never look back and would go on the win the game in dominating fashion, 98-65.
At the end of the day, the Mountaineers lived and died from the 3-point line. While all the threes kept it close in the beginning, Mount St. Mary’s cooled off in the second half and fell behind quick, finishing the game going 12-34 from behind the arc.
But save for that hot start by Mount St. Mary’s, it was all-around dominate victory for Michigan State, who put on a clinic of what team basketball looks like, dishing out 28 assists on 41 baskets all-the-while winning the rebound battle 40-31.
Up next for the Spartans, they’ll take on the No. 16 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1) at home Wednesday, December 4. Tip-off will be at 9:00 PM ET and will be televised on ESPN.