No. 19 Michigan State found themselves in an unexpected dogfight on Saturday against Loyola (Ill.), but the Spartans pulled away late to grab a 73-61 victory over the Ramblers at the Breslin Center.
Gary Harris scored a career-high 20 points for the Spartans, and his back-to-back-to-back threes midway through the second half gave Michigan State some breathing room. Ben Averkamp would not let Loyola die, scoring six of his 25 points in an 8-0 run to get the Ramblers back within three. However, Loyola would not get any closer the rest of the game.
Michigan State initially appeared on the verge of blowing the game open in the first half, but Loyola used a 14-0 run late in the half to grab a five-point lead. The Ramblers took a 32-30 lead into halftime and stayed competitive until the final few minutes.
Harris knocked down five three-pointers in the victory, which also set a career-high. The fabulous freshman made 5-of-7 from deep and 7-of-11 overall. Adreian Payne added 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Spartans.
Michigan State improved to 8-2 on the season and 7-0 at home. Loyola dropped to 6-3.