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Michigan State overcomes Payne's off night

The SportsXchange

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- When a team has the type of supporting cast that Michigan State does, it can afford its leading man to have the occasional off night.

Michigan State (6-0) overcame a subpar performance from leading scorer Adreian Payne to turn back pesky Oklahoma 87-76 on Saturday night in the final of the Coaches vs. Classic at the Barclays Center.

Keith Appling and Gary Harris picked up the scoring slack, scoring 27 and 21 points, respectively, for the No. 1 Spartans. Brandon Dawson added 18 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

"I thought (Dawson) was our unsung hero tonight," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We had some guys really step up and we had some guys that didn't."

Appling was named the tournament MVP.

Payne, who averages 19.8 points per game, was held in check by Oklahoma's zone. He scored just four points, his lowest output of the season, amid foul trouble. Payne sat down with four fouls with 8:38 left and didn't return until there was 3:04 left in the game.

"It was AP's (Adreian Payne) night to struggle," Izzo said. "It will be a good learning experience for him."

Forward Cameron Clark scored a career-high 32 points for the Sooners (4-1).

Michigan State received scoring from nine different players.

The Spartans were just 23 of 36 from the free throw line and committed 23 fouls. The game lacked rhythm, especially in the second half when 31 fouls were called on both teams.

"I'm a little jealous of coach (Mark) Dantonio," Izzo said of his football counterpart, who guided the Spartans to the Big Ten championship game on Saturday. "He gets to have fun coaching a sport where you can have contact.

"I feel bad for the officials and it's frustrating, but that's all I'll say."

Isaiah Cousins was fouled beyond the arc and drained three free throws and Buddy Hield's 3-pointer from the left corner drew Oklahoma to within four at 73-69 with 3:53 remaining. But the Spartans got six straight points from Appling to push their lead to 79-71 with 2:26 left.

"We didn't play very well," Izzo said. "Usually, we do the punching, but tonight we got punched. I thought it (the game) was ugly, but I'm going to enjoy it."

The 23 personal fouls called on the Spartans were their second most this season.

"We're not a pretty-boy team," Izzo said. "I don't want to be a white-collar team."

The Sooners got as close as 57-53 midway through the second half, but Appling's traditional three-point play and dunk on a fast break moved the Spartans lead to 62-53 with 9:29 to play.

"I thought we battled to get back into it in the second half," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "Obviously, the stretch in the first half was a lot to overcome and I thought we had pretty good ball movement on the night, with the exception of that stretch in the first half."

A Dawson dunk ignited the Spartans and gave them their first lead at 30-29 with 6:40 to go in the first half. From there, Michigan State used a 15-2 burst to provide a 45-31 first-half cushion.

Dawson scored eight of his 12 first-half points during the spurt.

Oklahoma took a 22-11 lead with 10:50 left in the half, holding Payne in check. The Spartans' big man didn't hit any of his three shots from the floor and grabbed just one rebound.

NOTES: Michigan State made 14 3-point field goals in the 96-77 win over Virginia Tech on Friday night, matching the second-best game in school history, and the Spartans set a record with 35 3-point attempts. ... The Virginia Tech game was the second time this season that two Spartans posted a double-double. Branden Dawson had 12 points and 10 rebounds and F Adreian Payne netted 29 points and 10 rebounds. ... Oklahoma boasts seven players averaging 8.5 points per game. ... The Sooners had scored at least 40 points in every half this season.
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