Spartans get running in exhibition win

The Spartans had a 27-0 edge in fast-break points and ran away from Grand Valley State in an exhibition at Breslin Center on Tuesday.

against Michigan State, it didn't end so well for the Spartans in a triple-overtime loss.

Six years later, it was a little bit smoother for the Spartans as they rolled over Grand Valley State 101-52 on Tuesday.

While seemingly pleased, coach Tom Izzo said it was hard to tell if his team exceeded his expectations.

"You never know when you play these games, but we've played not really good teams and scored 60 points," Izzo said. "I think you can see we're going to score more points and we're going to run more. … I do think we're a better shooting team. I think there were some things that were very encouraging, but we'll see.

"The next game is going to markedly better and then we jump into the fire really quick."

The Spartans were keyed by a 14 of 24 3-point shooting performance and a 27-0 edge in fast-break points.

"Offensively, I think we did great," said junior Travis Trice, who had 11 points. "That's something we've really been stressing the past couple years. I think tonight was really the best we've ran in a while."

Senior point guard Keith Appling, who led the Spartans with 17 points and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, said the convincing performance had Izzo at ease after the game – more so than he has been after exhibitions in prior years.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that he was happy, but he was at ease, I feel like," Appling said. "We mostly took care of business and we did what he wanted us to do aside from the one thing we didn't do, which was guard the dribble penetration."

Appling's shooting performance gave Izzo something to be pleased with. The Spartans' coach said it was more than his shooting, though.

"He was very solid and he didn't try to do things he couldn't do," Izzo said. "He was very much under control. To me it looked like the game slowed down for him."

The Spartans led 47-24 at the half before breaking it wide open with a 23-4 run to open the second half.

Gary Harris had nine of his 15 points in that stretch, which spanned the first 8:56 after halftime.

"It felt good to get out there for the first time and play against some other people," sophomore Gary Harris said. "I felt like we ran the ball pretty well. …

"We had a lot of positives and we got a lot of things we gotta work on, too. Just gotta get back to the drawing board and get ready for the next exhibition."

The combination in the middle of Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna combined for 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Thirteen players scored for MSU and six played at least 20 minutes.

Grand Valley State coach Ric Wesley said he thinks it is the best team he has seen at Michigan State in his tenure.

"This is my tenth year at Grand Valley and I think that might be the best team that I've seen since I've been here," he said. "They're so strong in every position, they're two-deep, they've got size, they've got quickness, they've got athletic ability and they have such great experience. …

"They bring guys in there, Trice and (Denzel) Valentine and those guys coming up, Gauna, those guys have played in big moments and big games. There's really not much of a drop off."


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