In 15 seasons at Michigan State, Tom Izzo has helped turn the Breslin Center into one of the nation’s most difficult venues for opposing teams, especially those from outside of the Big Ten.
The second-ranked Spartans, however, will face one of the few non-conference opponents that’s beaten them on their home floor in Friday night’s Legends Classic opener against Toledo.
Michigan State is 195-24 at home since Izzo took over for former mentor Jud Heathcote in 1995-96, including a 94-8 mark against non-conference foes.
Izzo is also 36-0 at home in November, and his team enters Friday’s game seeking its 42nd consecutive home win over a non-conference team, a run that started after a loss to Duke on Dec. 3, 2003.
The Spartans’ streak at the Breslin Center appeared to be in jeopardy Tuesday night.
Michigan State trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half against Gonzaga but rallied for a 75-71 victory, taking the lead for good on Durrell Summers’ 3-pointer with 3:02 left.
Summers, who finished with 21 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, also made a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining.
“It’s a big win for us because we didn’t play real well,” Izzo said. “Gonzaga took it to us for at least 30 minutes. … They punched us in the mouth, picked us off the ground and punched us again early - and I thought we were ready to play.”
After scoring 8.6 points per game as a sophomore, Summers has averaged 19.0 points in the first two games of this season. Kalin Lucas is leading the Spartans in scoring again with 20.0 points per game.
Raymar Morgan scored 16 points in Tuesday’s win despite playing on a pair of injured ankles.
It’s doubtful the winless Rockets (0-2) will give Michigan State as much of a test as Gonzaga did, but they did earn an 81-76 win in their previous trip to the Breslin Center on Dec. 30, 2002.
Toledo has allowed opponents to shoot 50.8 percent while losing its first two games by an average of 17.0 points. The Rockets are coming off a 92-68 defeat at Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Jake Barnett had a team-best 21 points, and Stephen Albrecht hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points in his second collegiate game.
Albrecht is one of three players averaging in double figures with 17.0 points per game. Barnett has averaged 15.0 points, and Justin Anyijong has posted 10.5 points and a team-leading 5.5 rebounds.
Michigan State holds a 4-3 edge in the series, and the teams have split four games in East Lansing. Toledo also won 82-80 there on Dec. 6, 1969.
Michigan State will continue play in the Legends Classic against visiting Valparaiso on Sunday before heading to Atlantic City, N.J., for the championship round Nov. 27-28.
Izzo is two wins shy of tying Heathcote atop the Spartans’ all-time victories list.