Welcome back Raymar Morgan.
It didn't take long for Raymar to make his presence felt at No. 12 Michigan State's season opener at the Breslin Center on Tuesday night.
After missing the Spartans' last exhibition game against Michigan Tech due to what coach Tom Izzo called "academic reasons", Morgan dropped 15 points in the first half against Chicago State, as the Spartans (1-0) rolled past the Cougars (0-2) 86-53 in the first round of the CBE Classic.
"I felt like I let a lot of people down so I just thought I needed to play great tonight," said Morgan. "This is exactly how we want to play. I think I had something to prove so I just put it out on the floor."
Morgan finished with a career-high 25 points and 15 rebounds.
"I thought (Raymar) Morgan - it was one game, but it was one game that he played a little bit more possessed," said Izzo. "I thought (Morgan's) points were great, and the rebounding led to a lot of points. I think on six offensive rebounds, he scored on five of them."
After two sluggish exhibition games, MSU looked like a different team on Tuesday, playing much like they should be and have been expected to coming into this season.
They came out firing early, with All-American Drew Neitzel quickly breaking out of a shooting slump by knocking down two three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game. Neitzel finished the game with 12 points and 8 assists, shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Kalin Lucas started in his college debut and scored the last four points of the first half to put the Spartans up 45-26 at halftime. Lucas' last basket of the half came on a layup that he got off just as time expired.
After Chicago State took an 18-17 lead in the first half, the Spartans responded with a 28-8 run and never looked back, getting 13 points from freshman Chris Allen and 12 points from another freshman, Durrell Summers.
David Holston scored 18 points for the Cougars, including going 4-of-8 from long-range. John Cantrell and Chidozie Chukwumah each had 10 points, as Chicago State featured nine newcomers on their roster.
The Spartans continued their strong play in the second half, leading by as many as 30 points.
"They are who we thought they were," said Cougars' first year coach Benji Taylor. "They're good, they're strong, and they're physical. They played with a different pace tonight and I think during the regular season, in their series, they are the No. 8 team in the country or better."
MSU improves to 87-22 all-time in season openers, having won 30 of its last 31 season openers.
The Spartans will now face Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday night in the second round of the CBE Classic, with the winner going to the semifinal round in Kansas City next week.
Louisiana-Monroe beat Northern Michigan 60-53 in the earlier first round game at the Breslin Center.
Morgan Helps Spartans Roll Past Chicago State
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