No. 15 Michigan State pulls away to beat Oakland

Oakland University gave No. 15 Michigan State quite a game for
about 35 minutes.

That wasn’t good enough for Golden Grizzlies coach Greg
Kampe.

Keith Appling scored 20 points to help the Spartans pull away to
beat Oakland 70-52 Friday night.

Michigan State led by just four points until Appling made a
3-pointer with 5:03 left. After the Golden Grizzlies made one free
throw, they were outscored 12-0 to turn a closely contested game
into a rout.

”I’m embarrassed,” Kampe said.

Duke Mondy scored 16 and Corey Petros had 14 points and nine
rebounds for the Grizzlies (2-4).

The Spartans (4-1) have won four straight since starting the
season with a loss to Connecticut in Germany.

Oakland never led, but didn’t make Michigan State’s night easy
until late in the game.

”To play on this stage, I’d rather get beat 99-0 than to do
what we did,” Kampe said. ”I can’t tell you how disappointed I
am.”

The Grizzlies are 2-30 against Big Ten teams, including an 0-11
mark against Michigan State.

But they have beaten teams from major conferences – Oregon and
Tennessee twice each – in four of the last five seasons and they
almost did it again last week at Pittsburgh.

And early on, it looked as if Michigan State might join the list
it didn’t want to be on against Oakland.

The Spartans got off to a shaky start with eight turnovers in
less than 8 minutes, allowing the Grizzlies to hang around and
trail by only one point.

Oakland, though, had no answer for Appling.

”That’s why he’s probably going to be an All-American, All-Big
Ten, or whatever,” Kampe said. ”Very good player, I wish he
played for me.”

Adreian Payne – who got a cramp in his left leg late in the game
– scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Derrick Nix
added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans.

Michigan State freshman forward Denzel Valentine had 10 points
and 10 assists, playing at times against his older brother, senior
forward Drew Valentine, who had five points and four assists.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said their parents, including
their father, Carlton, a former Spartan, have ”a lot to be proud
of with those two kids,” after watching them play against each
other for the first time in a game.

Michigan State, though, recovered well enough to lead 34-21 at
halftime. The second half was closely contested until the Spartans
started to dominate at both ends of the court and ended up
outscoring the Grizzlies 36-31 after halftime.

In both halves, Izzo gave Appling credit for leading the
way.

”He really put everyone on his back,” he said.

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage