EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State needed something to help it wake up during its opener against Florida Gulf Coast.
Durrell Summers delivered.
His slam on an alley oop sparked a run in the first half that the second-ranked Spartans used to pull away from the Eagles en route to a 97-58 win Friday night.
“It gets a little more electrifying if you can have those big-time plays,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “Those plays do get people going. The players, fans, cheerleaders, everybody got excited with that dunk.”
The Spartans (1-0) started sloppy and sluggish, turning the ball over four times in less than 4 minutes and failing to take the lead until the 15:22 mark of the first half.
Florida Gulf Coast scored four more go-ahead baskets until Summers’ dunk off Chris Allen’s lob put the Spartans ahead 18-17 midway through the first half.
“How we played early is what we’re going to focus on, and not so much the second half,” said Eagles head coach Dave Balza, a Michigan graduate. “I don’t think people realize how quick they are. We played Kansas last year and there’s no doubt, Michigan State is a faster team.”
Anthony Banks led the Eagles (0-1) with 10 points and former Michigan guard Reed Baker scored nine.
Summers scored 14 of his 17 points before halftime and Kalin Lucas had 14 of his 21 points in the second half, helping the Spartans win their 33rd straight home opener and 40th nonconference game in a row at the Breslin Center.
Michigan State didn’t look like it was fired up to play an Atlantic Sun Conference team, in its first game since losing to North Carolina in the national championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. The Spartans, though, overcame poor play early against a lackluster team in its third Division I season.
They probably won’t be able to do that in upcoming games against Gonzaga on Tuesday at home, then versus Florida, No. 6 North Carolina and No. 3 Texas.
“Now, we get Gonzaga here,” Lucas said. “I can’t wait!”
Raymar Morgan made a surprising appearance for Michigan State, playing on a sprained right ankle that was expected to keep him out after he missed two exhibition games.
The senior forward was welcomed by a rousing ovation when he entered the game with 14:39 left in the first half. Morgan was 0 for 4 from the field and 0 for 4 from the line in 9 minutes before resting in the second half.
“Raymar really wanted to play,” Izzo said. “The ankle is not ready and it probably won’t be for another two weeks, but it’ll be more ready Tuesday than it was today.
“He didn’t re-injure it, but it was getting stiff at halftime.”
Chris Allen and Delvon Roe also returned for the Spartans after missing their preseason game against Grand Valley State. Allen had a groin strain and Roe a concussion.
“We had everybody in uniform, but we didn’t have everybody back,” Izzo said. “I don’t think we’re near where we’re going to be, but we have to get better or we’re going to be in trouble.”
Michigan State avoided another setback when Draymond Green limped off the court with 3:13 left. Green was trying keep weight off his right leg after an 11-point, 10-rebound game, but Izzo said the sophomore forward simply had cramps.
“He just wanted to make a big-time departure,” Izzo joked.
Allen had 10 points and five assists and reserve Korie Lucious added 11 points and eight assists for the Spartans. Derrick Nix scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds—a record for a Michigan State freshman in his debut—in just 15 minutes.
The 6-foot-8, 280-pound center has lost about 50 pounds since he won the Mr. Basketball award last season playing for Detroit Pershing High school.
“He’s sweat a lot of weight off,” Izzo said. “It’s nice to see him rewarded.”