Oakland forward Trey Townsend attempts a shot over Michigan State’s Coen Carr.

Oakland forward Trey Townsend attempts a shot over Michigan State’s Coen Carr.

Photo provided by Clarence Round

Walker, Spartans stomp Golden Grizzlies 79-62

Michigan State records 22nd consecutive win against Oakland University

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Rochester Post | Published December 21, 2023


EAST LANSING — It’s the same story each year with the same ending for Oakland University in their head-to-head matchups with Michigan State. The storyline has played out 22 straight times to be exact.

Courtesy of a 12-1 Spartans run that gave Tom Izzo and company a 51-31 lead with 12:10 left in the second half, Michigan State cruised to a 79-62 win over Oakland University on Dec. 18 at the Breslin Center, leading the all-time series 22-0.

“I’m as disappointed as I’ve ever been coming out of this place,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “The first three-to-five minutes in the second half really angered me. It changed the game. We let (Tyson) Walker have a one-pass, wide-open three to start the second half. Our team is based on our defense. Our defense in the first half was phenomenal.”

Michigan State (6-5) countered Oakland’s defensive efforts with an equally impressive first half performance, holding the Golden Grizzlies (6-7) to 29% from the floor.

Oakland guard Blake Lampman kept the Golden Grizzlies offense alive with a trio of triples in the first half, including one that cut the Spartans lead to two just before the break, but a 9-3 run by Michigan State kept Oakland behind 30-22 at halftime.

Spartans guard Tyson Walker led the way with a team-high 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half when Walker caught fire on the floor. Walker became the 24th-fastest Michigan State player to reach 1,000 career points in the win.

“He’s a special guy,” coach Tom Izzo said. “He reminds me of Gary Harris back in the day. He plays both ends hard as hell, and we need him more than we did Gary offensively. Hats off to Tyson. I’m extremely proud of him.”

Townsend led all scorers with 17 points while Oakland guard Rocket Watts, who played for Michigan State in 2020 before transferring in 2021, added 16. Lampman had 12 points in the loss.

Oakland honed in on controlling Walker throughout the matchup, and efficiently followed the game plan in the first half, but guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard were each able to chip in 11 points in the win.

Kampe said once Walker got going in the second half, everything fell out of place for the Golden Grizzlies defensive unit.

“There had to be four eyes on him every time he touched the ball,” Kampe said. “That was our terminology. He’s got to see four eyes so he’ll give it up. The first catch of the second half, no eyes. The second catch of the second half, no eyes.”

Michigan State’s bench, which outscored Oakland’s bench 31-5, played a pivotal role in the scoring department as Tre Hollman (8), Carson Cooper (7), and Coen Carr (7) each provided a spark.

The Spartans outscored the Golden Grizzlies 18-8 off of turnovers.

It’s a crushing loss for an Oakland team that had played competitively this season against premier opponents, earning a win against Xavier and close losses to Ohio State and Illinois.

“We play those games for a lot of reasons,” Kampe said. “One is the money, and two is because Izzo and I believe the same thing — you make your team better. It’s not about your coaching record or your record, it’s about being good in March. At our level, the only way you get to the tournament is if you win three games in March. I would love to be 11-1 and not playing anybody, and this team could be that, but that’s not going to make us better in March.”

Oakland will travel to Cleveland State on Dec. 28 while Michigan State is slated to host Indiana State on Dec. 30.