EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Goran Suton and Raymar Morgan knew the Spartans had to take Oakland seriously. The duo stepped up with a standout performance, and just about every point was needed.
Suton had a career-high 20 rebounds and scored 15 points and Morgan added 20 points to help No. 10 Michigan State beat Oakland 75-71 on Saturday.
Suton grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, snaring nearly as many of his team’s misses as Oakland did. The Grizzlies were outrebounded 41-33, but grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
“We knew they were averaging more than 24 offensive rebounds a game,” Morgan said. “They’re great on the boards. Could they compete in the Big Ten? I think so.”
Suton bounced back from one of his worst games, a zero-point, four-rebound effort in Tuesday’s loss to No. 2 UCLA.
“We looked at what I was doing wrong,” Suton said. “I was holding my cutouts too long. But I don’t think I’ve ever had 11 offensive rebounds, not even in high school.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was thrilled by that turnaround but didn’t want to admit it to Suton.
“I was encouraged the way he went after it today,” Izzo said. “But I’m not sure I want to give him that credit. Sometimes he rests on his laurels.”
The Spartans (4-1) trailed 25-18 with 5:47 left in the first half before using a 15-2 run to take a 33-27 edge at the break. Drew Neitzel began the run with a 3-pointer, and Durell Summers and Suton each had four points in the critical stretch.
Brandon Cassise led Oakland (2-3) with 20 points, including five 3-point baskets. Derick Nelson added 19 points and nine rebounds.
“We’re disappointed we couldn’t finish this,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “Michigan State sets the standard for college basketball in this state. But that’s what makes a great program and a great team. Their players step up and do what it takes.”
But the Grizzlies were a different team from the one that trailed the Spartans 40-13 at halftime last year. Oakland never fell behind by double digits and trailed by three in the closing seconds, despite not having its best shooter, Erik Kangas, who was out with a shoulder injury.
The Spartans scored their last 12 points at the foul line.
Neitzel, a preseason All-American, was just 3-for-9 from the field but scored Michigan State’s last four points at the line.
Jones added 10 points for Oakland but was 4-for-16 from the field. He made up for that with seven assists, zero turnovers and solid defense.
“You might want to ask Drew Neitzel what he thinks of Johnathan Jones,” Kampe said. “I have to believe he guarded Neitzel as well as Neitzel can be guarded.”
Izzo was concerned about his team allowing 20 offensive rebounds. Michigan State, the Big Ten rebounding leader in eight of the last 10 years, also allowed 22 offensive boards against UCLA.
“We’re an out-of-sync basketball team, and I don’t know when that’s going to change,” Izzo said. “You have to give Oakland credit. But I’m trying to figure how we can keep the right lineups on the floor. We’ve got some guys who can shoot and some guys who can defend. We don’t have a lot of guys who can do both right now.”