It was the Spartan's first game since falling short in the last year's NCAA Championship game at Ford Field, and while Coach Izzo returned most of last year's roster the night belonged to freshman Derrick Nix.
The Detroit Pershing standout came off the bench to record a double of 11 points and 14 rebounds in just 15 minutes of play. Nix tied a Spartan record as only the second freshman in Spartan history to record a double-double in his debut.
The Eagles put up an early fight and stayed neck to neck with the Spartans until Durrell Summers woke the crowd up with a two handed alley courtesy of teammate Chris Allen, to give the Spartans an 18-17 lead with 9:01 left in the first half.
Two more Summers baskets, a baseline dunk and a long 2-pointer, gave the Spartans a 23-17 lead. Summers' boost ignited a 21-10 run to end the half and a Summers' 3-pointer from the wing, as the first half horn sounded, gave the Spartans a 44-27 halftime lead.
Summers led all first half scorers with 14 as Allen chipped in with eight and Kalin Lucas added seven.
Gulf Coast never threatened in the second half as Coach Izzo spread the minutes around to his deep bench. No matter who the Spartans had in Gulf Coast could never match-up. Consecutive 3-pointers from Corey Lucious gave Michigan State a 61-39 lead with 12:40 to play.
Midway through the second half is when Nix drew the crowd's attention. It started with an offensive rebound and put back off of a missed free throw. The next trip down the floor the 6'8" 280-pound freshman grabbed another offensive rebound and put it back up while being fouled to complete the three point play.
It took Nix less than a half to get comfortable and make his mark.
"It was fast out there, no joke man, It was faster than I thought it was going to be, but it felt good. It feels good to know I tied that record but now we have to go out there and get Gonzaga," stated Nix.
"I was happy for Nix, he has sweat off a lot of weight and I was happy to see him rewarded for it," added Coach Izzo.
Izzo credited the win on his team's ability to grab 22 offensive rebounds and get their uptempo game going.
"Overall I was happy with the way we played but we still have a lot of work to do before Tuesday," said Izzo.
Tuesday night, Gonzaga comes to town to take on the Spartans and the key for Michigan State will be how healthy their roster can get before then.
"We had everyone in uniform tonight but we didn't have everyone back like we wanted, stated Izzo.
Raymar Morgan surprisingly suited up and played nine first-half minutes.
"He was cleared to play and wanted to give it a go. But in the second half we didn't want to push it so we left him out," said Izzo. Draymond Green left the game late in the first half but Izzo said "Day-Day" is fine and it was due to cramps. "He just wanted to make a big time departure," Izzo said jokingly.
"I was happy with the play of our post players- Day Day, Nix, Delvon Roe, and even Garrick Sherman. But they'll have to ready for Tuesday because Gonzaga is big, they go 7'5", 7'0", and 6'11"," said Izzo. "Now we got Gonzaga here and I can't wait," added Lucas, who led all scorers with 21 points.