Payne stars as Michigan State dumps Delaware in NCAA opener
Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Adreian Payne scored 23 of his game-best and career-high 41 points in an explosive first half, as Michigan State dumped Delaware by a 93-78 count in second round action in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Travis Trice totaled 19, while both Gary Harris and Branden Dawson contributed 10 points for the fourth-seeded Spartans (27-8), champions of the Big Ten tourney who advance to take on surprising 12-seed Harvard in a third-round matchup on Saturday.
"Well, it was a strange game," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "When you're a team that is contending to move on, you got to play well for the whole 40 minutes and we didn't tonight. We survived, but I think we learned something and I think we'll grow from it."
Devon Saddler poured in 21 points and Devon Usher followed with 20 for the Blue Hens (25-10), winners of the CAA postseason crown who hadn't earned an NCAA berth since 1999. Jarvis Threatt totaled 14 points with six rebounds.
"I wanted to win a conference championship and that's what we did, that's the reason why I came here," said Usher, a transfer from Mississippi Valley State. "Coming into this game we felt like we could play with those guys, we weren't scared, and things didn't go our way."
MSU seized control with a monster 23-6 burst through the middle portion of the first half. Up just 13-12, Payne broke through with a jumper to start the run, then Harris contributed back-to-back buckets.
Payne later sank consecutive treys to make it a 30-18 spread, finished off a three-point play and then drained a yet another trey to cap the run with 6:32 left which gave the Spartans a 36-18 advantage.
Delaware reduced its deficit to 41-33 after a three from Saddler inside of two minutes left, but fell behind 44-33 at the break on a Trice layup.
Saddler made two baskets in a row and Usher's make from long distance got the Blue Hens to 44-39 less than two minutes into the second half, but Appling's layup capped an 8-2 surge and left Michigan State ahead 52-41.
King-Davis hit a bucket on the next possession, and it was the last time Delaware was within single digits for the remainder of the contest.
Trice connected for six straight points, Payne made a jumper to push MSU's lead to 13, and Trice capped another burst with a triple and the Spartans were up 69-50 at the midway point.
Michigan State gradually began to sit its starters, with Payne's final points coming on two free throws with just under four minutes to play.
UD was up 6-2 in the early stages thanks to consecutive 3-pointers from Saddler and Threatt.
Payne became the first Spartan to reach the 40-point mark since Shawn Respert totaled 40 against Indiana in 1995 ... He also set a Michigan State NCAA Tournament record for points in a single game, eclipsing the 34-point performance by Greg Kelser in 1979 against Notre Dame ... The Spartans were 10-of-19 from beyond the arc and shot 53.6 percent (30-of-56) from the floor for the game, while the Blue Hens connected on 20-of-55 field goals and only 8-of-20 from long range ... Delaware has yet to win in five tries (1992-93, 1998-99, 2014) in the premier college postseason tourney.
03/20 20:37:19 ET