EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian feels that if his team makes the NCAA Tournament it will likely play a highly ranked team in the first round.
He got a glimpse of what the result might be as his Mountaineers were soundly defeated Friday by No. 1 Michigan State 98-65.
“We always want to measure ourselves against the very best and I felt we did that today for about 25 minutes,” Christian said. “I was pleased with what I saw for about 25 minutes.”
What Christian saw after that was the Spartans continuing domination of non-conference opponents at home during November.
“Michigan State, obviously the No. 1 team in the country, definitely played like it today, especially there in the second half,” Christian said.
Keith Appling came off the bench to score 17 points and Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine each added 15 to lead Michigan State.
The last time the Spartans (7-0) lost at home in November was to a David Robinson-led Navy team on Nov. 29, 1986. Michigan State has won 74 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at home.
Michigan State — which is off to its best start since opening the 2000-01 season 12-0 — did not start Appling, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson due to “classroom attendance issues.”
The Spartans also did not play leading scorer Gary Harris to rest his ankle that has been bothering him since the summer. Harris, who averaged 17.7 points, sat on the bench in his warmups and is expected to play Wednesday against No. 16 North Carolina.
The Mountaineers were able to lead twice by one point and kept it close before Michigan State’s three usual starters entered the game with 14:12 left in the opening half. The Spartans then went on a 33-19 run to take a 50-38 halftime lead — the most points Michigan State had allowed in the first 20 minutes this season.
Michigan State turned up its defense and began running at will in the second half en route to leading by as much as 33 points. The Spartans finished the game hitting 63.1 percent of its field goals while Mount St. Mary’s was limited to 32.8 percent shooting, including only 9 of 32 in the second half.
Will Miller scored 15 points for the Mountaineers (2-6) who were facing the No. 1 team for only the second time in school history. Mount St. Mary’s lost to top-ranked North Carolina in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans held the Mountaineers’ two leading scorers, Julian Norfleet and Rashad Whack, to 13 and 10 points. The two came into the game combining for 33.7 points.
The loss dropped the Mountaineers to 1-21 all-time against ranked opponents. Their win came in December 1995 against then No. 21 Georgia Tech.
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