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After slow start, MSU beats Oakland




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Men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo watches a free throw from the sidelines during the game against Oakland on Dec. 14, 2013, at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Spartans defeated the Grizzlies, 67-63. Danyelle Morrow/The State News



AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It wasn’t pretty, but the No. 5 MSU men’s basketball team got the job done.

MSU committed 17 turnovers, and shot just 42 percent, but they came out on top against Oakland 67-63 Saturday afternoon at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Senior center Adreian Payne and junior forward Branden Dawson each had double-doubles on the night, while senior guard Keith Appling led the Spartans in scoring with 21 points, 17 of them coming in the second half.

Payne had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Dawson added 16 points and 13 rebounds.

It’s been ten days since MSU lost 79-65 to North Carolina, and Dawson had what many have called one of the worst games in his Spartan career.

“When I bring the energy, I lift this team,” Dawson said. “Coming in and watching a lot of film with coach and different guys just helped out a lot tonight. I just need to redeem myself. I was ready to come out and play.”

Head coach Tom Izzo said after the North Carolina game, he and the coaching staff challenged him, and he responded in the best possible way.

“We got after him a little bit and give that kid credit, he responded,” Izzo said. “No question he played more like he can. I’ll take that day from him.”

Oakland came out of the gates quickly, and led by as many as eight in the first half.

The Golden Grizzlies went on a 10-1 run early in the period, but MSU answered with a 7-2 run of their own.

Payne and Dawson took over towards the end of the half, and brought the Spartans back into it, as Oakland led by just one at halftime.

Appling said that the slow start was just an excuse, and gave all the credit to the Golden Grizzlies for their play in the first half.

“You’ve got to give Oakland some credit, they came out and hit some tough shots,” Appling said. “They played hard and make things happen, but we were able to pull it out in the end”

The teams traded baskets in the second half, but the Spartan offense was to much for Oakland to contain.

MSU took control with just over five minutes left in the game when Appling completed a three-point play to put MSU up by eight.

Oakland guard Duke Mondy kept the Golden Grizzlies in the game by hitting some key shots down the stretch. He led Oakland with 24 points.

Junior guard Travis Trice had the dagger with two minutes left when Dawson found him for a wide-open, NBA range three pointer with two minutes left.

Sixteen of Payne’s 20 points came in the first half, but he said he could’ve scored even more.

“I’m kind of disappointed because there were some shots I could have made, and that’s probably because of some days that I took off,” Payne said. “I’ve just got to continue to watch film and try to break it down and get better from that.”

MSU was without two regular starters as sophomore guard Gary Harris was sidelined with an ankle injury, and sophomore forward Matt Costello didn’t make the trip due to mononucleosis.

Izzo said redshirt freshman forward Kenny Kaminski is suspended indefinitely because he’s got to “grow up.”

The Spartans will look to put together a better performance when they host North Florida Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“The ten days off really did affect us,” Izzo said. “We’re just pretty beat up. You lose and you want to go to war, but you can’t go to war because you don’t have bodies. It’s been a miserable ten days.”


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