ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Travis Trice scored a career-high 25 points, and No. 18 Michigan State struggled against pesky Navy before squeezing out a 64-59 victory Friday night in the Veterans Classic.
Though owning a decided height advantage and supposedly a huge edge in talent, the Spartans got all they could handle from the disciplined Midshipmen.
Michigan State led 44-43 with 11 minutes left and 53-50 with 7 minutes remaining before Navy went cold. A 3-pointer by Denzel Valentine, coupled with a layup by Braden Dawson with 5:29 to go, upped the margin to eight points. After the Midshipmen got to 60-57, Trice scored on a drive with 1:46 left.
Fouled with 17.3 seconds left and Michigan State up 62-59, Trice — a senior guard — made one of two shots. Then, after a Navy misfire, Trice added two more free throws.
That was enough to enable the Spartans to improve to 35-3 in their last 38 openers, 17-3 under coach Tom Izzo.
Edward Alade led Navy with 12 points. The Midshipmen were outrebounded 38-30 but stayed close by forcing 15 turnovers and committing only 10.
Each team went 6 for 10 from the foul line, with Michigan State getting most of those attempts in the closing minutes.
A 3-pointer by Trice with 17:55 remaining put the Spartans up 42-29, their biggest lead. But the Midshipmen answered with a 10-0 run, getting points from four different players, and Izzo reluctantly took a timeout. When play resumed, Navy missed a chance to tie it when a 3-pointer by Brandon Venturini rimmed out. Trice scored on the other end, but it was hardly the beginning of the end for the Midshipmen.
The Spartans didn’t take a free throw in the first half, but 16-for-28 shooting from the floor and a 19-10 advantage on the boards provided MSU a 36-29 lead at the break.
Michigan State: For the third time in four years, the Spartans opened the season in an event connected with the U.S. armed forces. In 2011, MSU played on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in front of President Obama. In 2012, the Spartans played in the Armed Forces Classic against UConn on Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Navy: Coach Ed DeChellis fell to 4-15 against Izzo. DeChellis was 4-11 against Michigan State while at Penn State and 0-3 at East Tennessee State.
Michigan State plays No. 4 Duke on Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Navy plays at Notre Dame on Sunday.
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