Oakland University’s Trey Townsend drives to the net against Michigan State University Dec. 21 at the Breslin Center.

Oakland University’s Trey Townsend drives to the net against Michigan State University Dec. 21 at the Breslin Center.

Photo provided by TZR Sports

Early second-half run pushes MSU hoops past Oakland in 67-54 win

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published January 6, 2023

 Oakland coach Greg Kampe, sporting festive attire, looks on as Chris Conway (23) and Rocket Watts (3) stand on the court.

Oakland coach Greg Kampe, sporting festive attire, looks on as Chris Conway (23) and Rocket Watts (3) stand on the court.

Photo provided by TZR Sports


EAST LANSING — Oakland University head basketball coach Greg Kampe was able to orchestrate one Christmas miracle in Oakland’s hometown matchup against Michigan State University on Dec. 21.

As MSU head coach Tom Izzo took the court with his team, the legendary coach sported an out-of-character look.

“Anybody sitting in this room tonight ever think they would see Tom Izzo in an ugly Christmas sweater?” Kampe asked the crowd of reporters. “I called him Thursday and said, ‘You got to change your image a little better,’ and he agreed to do it. I figured he wouldn’t.”

Izzo sported a green Christmas sweater while Kampe countered with an impressive Grinch button-up.

As Izzo took the podium after the game, he made one thing clear to the media.

“First of all, the sweater is Kampe’s fault,” Izzo said. “I think he got money if he could convince me to wear one, because he was begging me, so he must’ve had a bet with somebody, or if it was for charity, then that is good.”

While Kampe took the first win of the night in the sweater department, Izzo and MSU bested Kampe and company on the court in a grueling pre-Christmas matchup.

Taking a 29-24 lead at the half, MSU opened the second half on a 10-0 run as Jaden Akins, Mady Sissoko, A.J. Hoggard, Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker all contributed a basket to give MSU a 41-26 lead.

Hauser (16), Walker (13) and Akins (15) all scored in double figures, while Sissoko was just shy of a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Akins, a Farmington native, has dealt with a foot injury throughout the season after undergoing surgery for a stress reaction in his left foot in September.

While closing in on feeling fully healthy, Akins said he felt confident from the floor against Oakland.

“All the shots I took today, I felt they were going in,” Akins said. “I’m just kind of getting back into my rhythm.”

MSU pulled away with a dominant 21-3 run to take a 52-29 lead with 15 minutes left in the second half.

Oakland countered with an 8-0 run of its own to trail by only 11, but Oakland’s 31.7% shooting from the field would be its downfall.

“They’re a great defensive team, and we knew it was going to be hard,” Kampe said. “That’s why when you get an open shot, you have to make it. If you’re going to win in the Breslin, what, they’re 18-4 here or something like that, so when you’re going to play in a place like this, especially when you’re Oakland, you got to make those shots.”

Oakland’s Keaton Hervey finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Trey Townsend (14) and Blake Lampman (11) both scored in double figures as well.

“Townsend is a load,” Izzo said. “I thought he did a hell of a job, and give the Lampman kid credit. He’s been hurt and he came home. I thought he looked so much more aggressive than last year.”

Lampman, from Haslett, Michigan, carried Oakland to an 18-13 lead behind a pair of threes and a two-pointer as the Breslin Center went silent in the middle of the first half.

While Lampman, Hervey and Townsend, who is from Oxford, provided an offensive boost, it was Oakland’s defense that played a dominant role in the first half, forcing 11 of MSU’s 18 turnovers in the contest.

“It’s not an easy team to play,” Izzo said. “Kampe runs that zone. I want to give him credit for it, and I’m gonna because it gave us some fits. I wasn’t sure what it was, and the bad news is I’m not sure he knew what it was, so thank god for his players.”

Oakland and MSU both featured lineups without one of their top players in Jalen Moore and Malik Hall, respectively.

Moore, who has averaged 14 points per game this season, returned in Oakland’s 81-65 win over Green Bay on New Year’s Eve, dropping 25 points in the win.

Kampe said Moore’s absence against MSU revealed an Oakland team that is capable of much more than it showed.

“This is as disappointing of a game against Michigan State as I’ve had in a long time because nobody expected us to do this, because nobody pays attention to us,” Kampe said. “All they do is see the record. They don’t know our best player isn’t playing.”

MSU followed up its win against Oakland with victories against Buffalo and Nebraska, while Oakland earned two wins of its own in a state of Wisconsin sweep against Green Bay and Milwaukee.

With both teams nearing a fully healthy lineup, there is a positive outlook for both squads moving forward into conference play.

MSU currently dominates the series against Oakland with a 21-0 record, but Izzo said he recognizes that it’s only a matter of time.

“My days are numbered,” Izzo said. “How many times do you win some, you luck out on some, you deserve to win some, but my days are numbered. It’s getting a little scary the amount of times we’ve played them, but I play them because I respect his program. I think it’s good for the state, and also it’s good for us. They play us differently, and they run different stuff.”