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Oakland nearly upset Michigan State. It wasn’t a fluke.

One of the country's best little-known basketball players and his experienced coach nearly handed No. 1 Michigan State its first loss of the season.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

No one was prepared for Kahlil Felder and Greg Kampe's Oakland University team. An inconsequential mid-major team just nearly did what no other team in the NCAA had done this year: beat the No. 1 team in the country, Michigan State. Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Kampe's talent for coaching a team was in the spotlight. Felder kicked down the door and introduced all 5'9 of himself to the collegiate circle as a legitimate threat. For him, size doesn't matter, and he proves it every night. Now, he's getting noticed.

Only Oakland has forced the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans into overtime this season. Four of the 13 games played by MSU have been won by six points or fewer. And of those four, only Oakland has either tied or taken the lead in the final minute of regulation.

It would've been reasonable to assume an easy ride to victory for MSU in the second half, and they did come back to tie it. Except, the Golden Grizzlies wouldn't go away. They refused. They shot just 7 of 26 and were 0 for 7 in overtime. But only when Felder fouled out with 49 seconds on the clock in overtime, did the Spartans gain enough ground to climb to a 99-93 lead for the win.

People weren't counting on Oakland, a school located in suburban Detroit, making it a close game, let alone running away with a 15-point lead in the first half. But none of it would be possible, not to that extent, without the coaching skills of Kampe -- the third-longest tenured head coach in Division I basketball. Felder's skills rendered Kampe nearly speechless after the game -- a rarity. It was more than enough to impress MSU head coach Tom Izzo, who had high praise for both Kampe and Felder.

"I'm gonna be mad at (Kampe) and them if they don't get to the tournament," Izzo told reporters after the game. "This is a tournament team, no question in my mind. They gotta play that way every night. Greg Kampe's done a hell of a job with (Felder) and (Felder's) done a good job of getting stronger."

Felder dropped 37 points -- his second 30-plus point game of the year. His other was against Washington, a Pac-12 team, where he dropped a career-high 38 points. For the first half of the game, Felder was unstoppable, manipulating MSU as they adjusted to playing without Denzel Valentine for the first time. Then, he went cold as MSU adjusted to him. He had just three points in the first several minutes of second-half play. But Felder responded to finish strong, his free throws in the closing seconds tying the game to force OT.

What Oakland does well is create offense. Felder, a junior out of Detroit, who was voted the preseason favorite for Horizon League player of the year, sparks that. He's won the Lou Henson award given to the best mid-major player of the week three times this season, and currently ranks third in the NCAA in points per game (26.9) and first in assists (8.9). Behind him the Grizzlies rank 18th in the country in adjusted offense, per Ken Pomeroy's offensive rating.

The Grizzlies' defense is still a work in progress for consistency as they rank 218th in defensive rating. In the four games leading up to Tuesday night's affair, Oakland had an unadjusted defensive rating of 91.98. But in another four of their 11 games, the Golden Grizzlies' defensive ability faltered mightily. If they're to remain competitive for the rest of the season, consistency will be key.

Given the right players, nearly any competent coach can make a team competitive. It's just not as easy to get those players to come to a team where the destination isn't exactly on the top of the map. But that's exactly what Kampe has done during his career. During his time at the university he's tallied 541 wins, which is currently fourth-most by an active D1 coach at a single school. He led the Grizzlies to an NCAA Tournament win in 2005, four straight 20-win seasons in 2008-2012 and tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Whether Oakland can remain a legitimate threat going forward is to be determined. No one is going to do them any favors. It's not going to get any easier. The line between being inconsequential and relevant is a thin one, and the rest of this season lies in the hands of Kampe and his fireball point guard. But if they can keep doing what they did Tuesday night, the end of the road looks bright -- for the team, and for Felder.

"Felder looked like one of the best players I've ever seen play here and I've watched a lot of pro games here," Izzo said. "He's unbelievable."