Having been named the No. 1 team in the country earlier in the day, the Michigan State Spartans overcame a lackluster first 25 minutes Monday to drop the Portland Pilots 82-67 at home. Michigan State needed a career-high 25 points from Keith Appling to do so.
Appling, who hit all five of his three-point attempts on the evening, added seven assists and got 18 points from big man Adreian Payne in the victory. In what was a relatively clean game -- the two teams combined for just 23 turnovers -- MSU needed a late run to put the Pilots away.
The game was tied at 46 with less than 13 minutes to play, but the Spartans began ratcheting up the offense from then forth. Travis Trice hit a three and scored on a layup after a steal for five quick points. Then, Appling hit a three which was followed up by two more triples from Gary Harris to give MSU a 60-50 lead, the largest to that point.
A defensive game kept the Spartans (4-0) to 43.3 percent shooting overall, but they did hit the same percentage of three-pointers, connecting on 13-of-30 from deep.
The Pilots kept it close with a balanced attack, as three players scored in double-figures and eight had five or more points. Guard Kevin Bailey let Portland with 12 points, and Ryan Nicolas and Bobby Sharp added 11.