Bryce Derouin

Michigan State’s Branden Dawson’s block ignited the fast break, and Gary Harris found Matt Costello, who finished the alley-oop with an emphatic dunk for the first points of the game.

The two highlight-reel worthy plays to start the contest foreshadowed what was to come, as Michigan State University defeated the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team 101-52.

“I think that might be the best team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said GVSU Head Coach Ric Wesley. “They’re strong at every position. They have size, they have quickness, and athletic ability.”

For a little over 11 minutes, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team held its own against the No. 2 team in the country.

Michigan State then flexed its muscles and showed why they’re one of the preseason favorites to make a deep run in March.

After junior Ryan Sabin knocked down a triple to cut Michigan State’s lead to 30-20, the Spartans closed the half on a 17-4 run to blow the game open and take a 47-24 lead into halftime.

“Our hope was that we could be competitive for a longer period of time. Obviously we weren’t able to do that,” Wesley said. “I think we started out okay. We had some good possessions. We made some shots. After that, I felt we took some hurried shots, some bad shots.”

GVSU struggled with the size and athleticism of Michigan State all night long. Good looks on offense were hard to come by for the Lakers and as a result, the team shot 28.6 percent from the field.

“It was hard for us to get an easy basket, and when we did something good and got it inside five feet, they swatted or contested it,” Wesley said. “So even when we had good offense, they got some great guys that clean up the mess there in the back end.”

As apparent as Michigan State’s athleticism was on the defensive side, it was just as visible on offense. The Spartans used an up-temp offense to set-up easy opportunities, most notably from three-point range, where they converted 14 of 24 attempts.

“Our hope was we could pack it in a little bit defensively and make them beat us from the outside and they just shot lights out,” Wesley said. “With their size, we weren’t able to give them much resistance on the glass, so they rebounded shots so easy. They got their outlet going and their fast break was just on top of us so quickly, there wasn’t much that we could do.”

Overall, Michigan State made 61.8 percent of its field goal attempts on the night and outrebounded GVSU 44-31.

Keith Appling led all scorers with 17 points, while last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year Gary Harris, tacked on 15 points of his own, including 10 in the second half.

For GVSU, freshman Luke Ryskamp led the way with 13 points. Sabin and freshman Trevin Alexander both chipped in with 11 points. Alexander also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

“The first time I was on the court, I was really nervous,” Alexander said. “Then my teammates were like ‘just go out and play’ and then we just started playing and things were flowing for me.”

The Lakers will have plenty of time to get guys healthy and develop chemistry with the new roster. They’ll be off until Nov. 14, when the team will make its first appearance in Allendale against Hope College.

“We came out and fought,” senior Rob Woodson said. “The score doesn’t really show it, but I feel like we learned a lot from this game. We just gotta get better day-by-day. We should still be top in the conference for sure.”