World News – US – Michigan State escapes Detroit Mercy past 23 from Rocket Watts


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EAST LANSING – Michigan State started its week beating its toughest opponent in years by winning the first game of the program on the road at Duke.

No.. 8 the state of Michigan came back from a deficit in the second half at the Breslin Center Friday night, coming from Detroit Mercy (83-76).

After a close first 33 minutes, in which UDM led by up to five points, Spartan’s second security guard Rocket Watts led an attack in the second half that finally sealed the victory.

Watts checked in midway through the second half, with UDM leading by five points, earning eight points over a 2:21 period to help the Spartans pull back.

He then found Gabe Brown for two baskets, including the second, on a 5:48 baseline ride to give the state of Michigan a two-point lead.

Detroit Mercy (0-1) stayed in a basket until the last two minutes when Titans star guard Antoine Smith missed a potential jumper with 1:14 and the Spartans (4-0) got baskets from Brown and Julius Marble to seal the victory.

Watts finished with 23 points and Brown had 16, of which 10 in the final 6:35. Aaron Henry had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Joey Hauser had 10 points.

The Titans have won three straight games against Michigan State in the first three years of Tom Izzo’s tenure, including two at the Breslin Center.

For much of Friday night, they seemed ready to do the same nearly a quarter of a century later when they energized the season opener against a Michigan-based team that often underplayed the first 20 minutes were.

Tom Izzo publicly worried ahead of the game that his team might come flat three days after an emotional Top 10 win and quickly saw his fears being realized.

A team that were strong defensively in the first three games of the year allowed UDM players to race for open layups. The team, which averaged more than 25 assists in their first two games, continued to struggle to move the ball. In the first 20 minutes there were only five templates.

Detroit Mercy hung on the boards with the Spartans throughout the game. The Spartans’ revenue problems from their first game returned for the game at 17.

The Spartans only shot halfway through 3:12 from a distance, although there was no shortage of overt looks, and went 4:13 on layups.

Joey Hauser came out and made three baskets in the first four minutes of the second half, punctuated by a 3-pointer to get the state of Michigan going.

But Detroit Mercy also had answers. Matt Johnson of the Titans scored three 3-point points, including two from the same spot in two consecutive possessions, in the first five minutes of the second half to deny the Spartans any momentum and help his team regain the lead.

The state of Michigan reduced the deficit to one point with two consecutive jumpers from Watts. The second came at 8:52, but Detroit Mercy responded with a 3-pointer in front of its own bank, then with a steal.

Watts was much more than that. He hit a pair of free throws, then a knight to finish the game at 7:08 when he put his team on their backs and eventually led them to a win.

Michigan State played without senior guard Joshua Langford, who was a game decision due to a knee injury.

After the standout first three games of the season – comfortable wins against Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame, the program’s first win at Duke – the state of Michigan came back to earth thanks to a bustling, no-shortage Detroit Mercy team back energy to the Breslin Center.

Michigan State now has only one day off before a Sunday game against Western Michigan.

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Detroit Mercy Titans Men’s Basketball, University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan State Spartans Men’s Basketball, Michigan State Spartans Women’s Basketball, Big Ten Conference, Basketball

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