That opponent was the Northern Michigan Wildcats, who played without a few of their top players, including their starting point guard due too eligibility issues. The Spartans won the game 118-57.
In this, the first of two exhibition games, head coach Tom Izzo decided to go with a smaller, quicker, three-guard starting lineup. Izzo started sophomores Kalin Lucas and Chris Allen along with senior Travis Walton. The starting frontcourt consisted of junior Raymar Morgan and senior Goran Suton.
From the start, it was clearly evident that this game was going to be a little different than last year's exhibition defeat at the hands of Grand Valley State. The Spartans came out of the gate extremely aggressive as they immediately went with a full court man-to-man press and, to put it simply, the shorthanded Wildcats didn't know what to do. The Spartans ended up forcing 30 turnovers.
MSU started quickly and efficiently thanks in large part to Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan. The Spartans jumped out to a 20-4 lead in the first six minutes. Lucas displayed the work he has put in on his jump shot in the off-season, and after the game he confirmed that.
"Just being a gym rat. Being on the shooting machine," said Lucas, who finished with 16 points and without any turnovers. "If it's in the morning, or it's at night or right before class."
The relentless pressure led to Wildcats turnovers and easy Spartans buckets. As usual, the Spartans got out in transition frequently and attacked the rim which ultimately put them in the double bonus with just under 12 minutes to go in the half. The Spartans ended the game with a 57 to 12 free throw advantage.
Morgan ran the floor and hit the boards extremely well as he finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Morgan also provided a couple of good highlights in the first half as he followed a Delvon Roe miss with a two-handed put-back slam. He was also on the receiving end of an alley-oop a few possessions later to take the score to 36-10.
Most Spartans played well, with 14 players getting more than five minutes of playing time, but tonight belonged to Durrell Summers. Late in the fourth quarter Summers displayed his shooting ability as he connected on three 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. The Spartans finished the first half up 68-30, a half that saw NMU coach Dan Ellis ejected from the game.
The second half was the same as the first as Coach Izzo substituted players and experimented with numerous lineups. Summers picked up where he left off, but in this half he did his damage inside the arch as he electrified the crowd with several dunks. Summers ended up with 30 points in only 16 minutes and looked like a completely different player than what we saw last season.
"I have to be a leader this year for the younger guys, like what the older guys did for us last year," Summers said. "I just expect to be more aggressive, and just slow myself down a little bit and just play within myself, and not to speed my game up when things are getting bad."
Excitement reached its pinnacle in the Breslin Center with 8:13 left in the second half as Travis Walton threw down a one-handed dunk, and Marquise Gray caught an oop from Korie Lucious on the Spartans' next possession.
Coach Izzo commented on Travis' dunk: "Travis got the first dunk of his life, including when he was in the crib."
Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 and 18 points respectively.
Other than Summers, Lucas and Morgan, Chris Allen was the only other Spartan is double figures with 13.
Michigan State's next game is next Monday against Lake Superior State at 7 p.m.