AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kalin Lucas pushed himself as hard as he could in consecutive practices for the first time since rupturing his left Achilles tendon in the NCAA tournament.
Then he had enough energy left over to score 25 points to help Michigan State (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) hold off Oakland 77-76 Saturday."I feel great," he said. "I hadn't gone full-go for two straight days since I had surgery, so I'm glad I was able to do that and still come out and do what I did in the game."Lucas, who matched a career high by making 10 free throws, connected on a 3-pointer and a jumper late in the game to prevent the Golden Grizzlies from getting closer than two points until Reggie Hamilton made a 3-pointer with 0.4 of a second left."My opening statement will sound a little strange for a team that is somewhere in the top 50," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought we played awfully well."The Spartans (7-3) had dropped three of their last six games to top-10 teams: Connecticut, Duke and Syracuse."We knew we got them at the wrong time," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "But we also knew, if we handled it, we could get the win."Michigan State is the only team in The Associated Press poll that has played a road game against a ranked team. It might lead the nation in miles traveled, playing in Maui, at Duke and against Syracuse in New York City in a two-week span."We still look like a very tired team," Izzo said.The Spartans will get a much-needed break, getting a week off before hosting Prairie View A&M and Texas ahead of their Big Ten opener at home against Minnesota.The Keith Benson-led Golden Grizzlies (5-5) aren't ranked, but they gave Michigan State all it could handle.Benson had 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, impressing the NBA scouts at the game."I didn't notice they were there," Benson said. "I did showcase what I can do, but I would've rather had a win."Larry Wright scored 21 for the Summit League defending champions and preseason favorite. Drew Valentine had 11 points while Hudson and Hamilton added 10 apiece.Oakland got off to a good start, taking early leads, and trailed by just four points at halftime.The school located in Rochester, Mich. -- near the Detroit Pistons' arena where the game was played -- quickly tied the game in the second half with Benson's hook and Wright's shot in the lane.Michigan State seemed to take control midway through the second half with a 10-0 run that put it ahead 49-39, but the Golden Grizzlies clawed their way back into the game and refused to let the Spartans coast to a victory.Lucas made a 3-pointer with just under 4 minutes left after Oakland pulled within two and another jumper to put Michigan State ahead 69-65.Oakland's Will Hudson made back-to-back shots to make it 73-70 with 23.2 seconds left.Michigan State could've sealed the win, but it missed some shots at the line and turned the ball over with 32.9 seconds left.Lucas led the way for the Spartans, but he got some help. Freshman Keith Appling, making his first start, and Durrell Summers each scored 12 points. Draymond Green, who started in place of Delvon Roe, had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds.The Spartans did a much better job of making free throws, 21 of 28, and taking care of the ball, turning it over just eight times.Oakland, which was very competitive at Illinois (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) in its previous game, lamented making just 11 of 20 free throws and turning the ball over 14 times."It's disappointing to come this close and to miss so many free throws and have so many turnovers," Benson said. "But now we know we can compete with any team in the nation."