Michigan State suffered its first loss as an upset bid fell short in its most recent game.
The No. 10 Spartans look to bounce back as they return to the role of favorite when they host nearby Oakland on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State (3-1) led by as many as 13 points on Tuesday, and by two with under 2 minutes left, but ended up losing 68-63 to No. 2 UCLA in the final of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.
It was the first game of the season against a ranked opponent for the Spartans, and they are not scheduled to face another one until a Dec. 22 game against No. 15 Texas.
The Spartans didn’t show much fatigue Tuesday, one day after holding off Missouri 86-83 in the tournament semifinals. They shot 12-for-24 in the first half and held the Bruins to 24.1 percent shooting to take a 36-25 halftime lead.
The second half was much different. The Spartans still shot well (11-for-20), but couldn’t contain UCLA, which shot 55.2 percent and held a 43-27 scoring advantage to remain undefeated.
“We did not deserve to win the way we played in the second half,” said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose team was 3-for-11 from 3-point range and committed 18 turnovers. “We were out of sync all night. I still don’t know how we scored 36 points in the first half.”
The loss overshadowed a gritty effort from preseason All-American Drew Neitzel. The senior guard was suffering from flu-like symptoms and didn’t start, but finished with a team-high 13 points in 25 minutes.
“My adrenaline got going a little and I felt pretty good before the game, but I still had some bad body aches,” said Neitzel, who is averaging 15.3 points and should be healthy enough to start Saturday. “I just didn’t have a lot of energy, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.”
Neitzel had 21 points and seven assists in the Spartans’ 71-53 win last Nov. 25 over Oakland - located 86 miles east of the Michigan State campus in the Detroit suburb of Rochester. The Grizzlies (2-2) have come no closer than 17 points in losing all six meetings—all in the past 10 years.
The Spartans will look for leading scorer Raymar Morgan to bounce back from his worst outing of the season. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is averaging 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds, but against UCLA, he was held to 10 points and two boards while dealing with foul trouble for the second straight game.
Michigan State tries to extend its home winning streak over unranked, non-conference opponents to 32 games.
The Grizzlies are coming off a 92-77 home loss to Duquesne on Tuesday. Derick Nelson had 20 points and eight rebounds, but was 9-for-29 from the field as Oakland shot a season-low 32.1 percent.
The junior forward is averaging 18.8 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who were picked to finish third behind IUPUI and Oral Roberts in the new Summit League.
“We’re making strides as a university so that we can be mentioned in the same breathe as Michigan and Michigan State,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “We know that’s a huge statement, but that’s our belief.”
Oakland is 0-16 versus ranked opponents since becoming a Division I member in 1998-99.