Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI
Without Denzel Valentine, it was expected that Oakland would be a major obstacle the Spartans would have to overcome to remain undefeated.
Oakland certainly delivered. Behind a career night from senior guard Bryn Forbes, the men's basketball team survived a huge night from star Oakland guard Kay Felder and defeated the Golden Grizzlies 99-93 in overtime at The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was a hard-fought battle, as the Spartans trailed by 13 at halftime before stepping up defensively in the second half.
With the win, the Spartans improve to 13-0. It's the best start in program history.
Forbes hit his first six triples and finished 7-for-9 from behind the arc en route to a 32-point effort.
"I knew I had to step up, but I think my shots were just in the flow of the game," Forbes said. "My teammates found me in great spots, which just helped."
With Valentine missing the game after undergoing knee surgery on Monday, redshirt junior Eron Harris did his best to fill the void with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"It was a mindset that I had to do a bunch of different things, especially the scoring," Harris said. "That's the best thing I do, the scoring. I also had to step it up on defense."
Oakland was led by Felder, who scored 21 of his 37 points in the first half. Felder also had nine assists and two steals.
MSU head coach Tom Izzo praised Felder after the game, calling him one of the best players in the country.
"We made him work," Izzo said. "I thought he had a couple of tough shots in the first half, he's a hell of a player. I'd vote for him for a lot of things ... big, big fan of his."
Forbes got the Spartans rolling early with a pair of triples. However, untimely turnovers and fouls committed by MSU gave Oakland the lift it needed, and a triple by Felder gave Oakland a 17-10 lead with less than 15 minutes to play in the first half.
A triple by Oakland guard Sherron Dorsey-Walker later gave the Spartans their biggest deficit of the season, 27-13, midway through the half. The Spartans trailed 50-37 at halftime, which left Izzo frustrated with MSU's defense.
"I always seem to give Oakland some credit, because they always seem to play us so tough," Izzo said. "But this year, those guys are a very, very good team. And I'm going to be mad at them if they don't get into the tournament, because they are a hell of a team, no question in my mind."
A hard foul on Forbes in the second half swung the momentum into MSU's favor.
A flagrant-1 was called against Hooper after elbowing Forbes on a drive to the rim. Forbes nailed both free throws, and then nailed his fifth triple of the night on the ensuring possession to cut the deficit to four, 57-53, with 12:50 to play.
After some back-and-fourth play between both teams, MSU took the lead near the nine-minute mark after Forbes drained his sixth triple. It was the first time MSU led since the 17:58 mark of the first half.
With 25 seconds left and MSU leading 80-78, Harris made two free throws to make it a four-point lead. Unfazed, Felder responded with a triple eight seconds later to cut the lead to one.
MSU senior forward Matt Costello was fouled on the next possession and split his trip on the line. Felder responded with a near and-one, but settled for two free throws to tie the game at 83 with 4.9 seconds left. Neither team managed to score in the final five seconds, sending the game into overtime.
MSU freshman forward Deyonta Davis gave the Spartans pivotal minutes in overtime after redshirt freshman forward Kenny Goins fouled out, scoring five consecutive for MSU to give the Spartans a 93-91.
Forbes nailed the dagger triple â€” his seventhâ€” with 44 seconds left to extend the lead to five.
With Valentine slated to miss 2-3 weeks, Harris said MSU proved tonight that it can find a ways to win games until Valentine returns.
"We proved to some people that we're a good team without our best player," Harris said. "With our best player, we're a great team. Without our best player, we're still good, know what I mean? That says a lot for the other players on our team."
The Spartans will return to action on Dec. 29, tipping off Big Ten season against Iowa on the road at 9 p.m.