In another sluggish effort, Michigan State managed to pull out a close exhibition game against Michigan Tech 61-55, on Goran Suton's offensive explosion in the last two minutes of the game.
After the Huskies' leading scorer Tim Strom converted a three-point play to bring his team within two at 48-46 with 3:47 left in the game, Suton responded with two free throws and a layup to push the Spartan lead to 52-48.
On the very next offensive possession, Tech left Suton open at the top of the point, as Suton responded by knocking down a three-pointer to make it 55-49 with 1:55 to play. That was the only three-point field-goal that the Spartans made all game, going 1-for-9 overall in the contest.
Suton stole the inbounds pass immediately afterwards and scored another layup, giving him nine points in a span of a minute and a half, putting the Spartans up 57-49 with 1:04 left to play.
"I think MSU's athleticism caught up with us at the end of the game," said Michigan Tech coach Kevin Luke. "Suton hit a huge three and I was happy for him but disappointed for us, because we are Michigan State fans at Michigan Tech."
Suton's scoring burst may have sealed the game, but freshman guard Kalin Lucas continued to impress, leading MSU with 16 points while Drew Neitzel continued to struggle, shooting 5-for-15 for 10 points.
"I think Kalin played very well, I was amazed at how he played defensively," said coach Tom Izzo. "Drew is just struggling; I am not very worried about it because he has been a shooter his whole life and it's hard for our team to be as successful, but a lot of those shots were halfway in."
It was a 29-22 halftime lead for MSU as they shot 37.5 percent in the first half but improved in the second half, shooting 45.8 percent from the field.
Suton finished with 15 points on the game, joining Neitzel and Lucas as the only Spartans in double-figures.
Strom was the only player in double-figures for the Huskies, finishing with 17 points. Michigan Tech shot 34 percent from the field on the game, shooting more than half of their field goal attempts from long range.
One of the biggest factors in the game for MSU was a player who was a non-factor on the court, as Raymar Morgan was in street clothes for the game.
In a last minute game-day decision, Morgan did not dress because of academic issues, according to Izzo.
In Morgan's absence, Izzo experimented with many smaller lineup combinations, playing four guards at once in the first half.
Isaiah Dahlman saw action at the four in Morgan's absence, playing with fellow guards Neitzel, Travis Walton and Lucas, with Drew Naymick playing center.
With his team still trying to find some identity on the court, Izzo believes that the team will get it going, and is showing signs of improvement with every game, but he never expected MSU's two exhibition games to be such struggles.
"I thought we would play well in our exhibition games, but we are just still trying to play a lot of people and we should be able to pair it down some now but we've got to get everybody back and we're going to have to do that for next week."
Tech coach Kevin Luke spoke about Michigan State's struggles after the game as well.
"I don't know if I would call it a struggle, it's more of a transition. For us, I do think it's really easy to scout this team because we know that we have to try and put all our focus on Drew (Neitzel) at this point. And Neitzel is going to get his points and (Kalin) Lucas is going to get his points," said Luke.
"When those young kids come of age and feel a little more comfortable, I don't think there's going to be struggle," added Luke.
Amidst all of the positives and negatives through the two exhibition games, the fact is, that MSU must open their regular season on Tuesday night against Chicago State, whether they are ready or not, but there might have been one important thing to get out of these first two games, if only Drew Neitzel can get going, then the whole team has the potential to get up and rally around their All-American senior leader.
MSU Edges Michigan Tech Despite Struggles
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