Michigan State has no problem with Oakland, rolling to 72-49 win

Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Basketball

DETROIT -- Make it 18-0.

No. 16 Michigan State used an interior advantage and its deep rotation to craft big scoring runs while relying on its defense to knock out Oakland, 72-49, on Saturday in front of 18,145 fans at Little Caesars Arena.

Twelve Spartans scored, including six of them netting between seven and 10 points each, led by Aaron Henry's 10. The Golden Grizzlies (5-6) shot just 26.2% (17 of 65) and were behind by as many as 29.

MSU coach Tom Izzo has never lost to Oakland's Greg Kampe in the 18 meetings since the series began in 1998.

Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman and Gabe Brown each scored nine and Thomas Kithier had eight for the Spartans (7-3), who resume Big Ten play at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern.

Things started rough for the Spartans, who had finals all week and hadn't played since last Sunday's 77-65 home win over Rutgers to open Big Ten play.

Oakland also struggled, but the Golden Grizzlies had a 7-1 rebounding edge in the first 3 1/2 minutes. MSU had two early turnovers and missed its first four shots and trailed briefly, 6-4.

It didn't take long for the Spartans to settle into a groove, though, beginning to run hard in transition as Izzo had demanded during practice this week.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Winston and Kyle Ahrens sparked a 26-7 run to close the half that included a 12-0 burst within it.


MSU finished 44.8% from the field and a 14-4 fast-break scoring advantage, but they struggled again from long distance. The Spartans made just 7 of 33 3-point attempts (21.2%). Brown was 0 for 5 from deep, while Winston went 1 for 9 behind the arc and 3 of 13 overall.

Kithier scored all of his points in the first half and also grabbed six rebounds. Tillman had a game-high 13 boards, while Brown added six and Ahrens and Conner George each snagged five.

Despite their slow start on the boards, MSU finished with a 54-31 rebounding edge.

Xavier Hill-Mais led Oakland with 10 points and seven rebounds, but he made just 5 of 20 shots with the Spartans' interior defenders bodying him all afternoon.

MSU also had a dominating 36-20 scoring advantage inside. Tillman and Kithier combined to go 8 for 8.

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