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East Lansing — Greg Kampe doesn't need a stat sheet to tell how good of a shooting team Michigan State can be.

The Oakland coach knew that coming into Sunday night's matchup at the Breslin Center and his team's focus was to stop the Spartans' best — Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice and Bryn Forbes.

The results were not what Kampe was hoping for as Michigan State cruised to an 87-61 victory behind a 10-for-17 effort from 3-point range from the Spartans. Valentine led the way with 19 points, hitting 5 of 6 from long range. Forbes added 12 points on a perfect 2-for-2 game from 2-point range and Trice was 2-for-4.

"We knew if they shot the ball we would be in trouble," Kampe said. "The only chance we had was to take away the three from those three guys. They are amazing players and amazing shooters. I don't care who they play. They can play Kentucky. If they shoot the ball, if those three kids shoot the ball the way they did tonight they can beat anybody in the country. And surely they would beat us pretty good."

Valentine is shooting 51.7 percent from 3-point range this season, the results of an off-season spent honing his form.

"I've been working on it since I got here," the junior said. "It's finally starting to pay off and I'm getting confidence. The big thing I wanted to do tonight was come out and be aggressive and I think I was."

The Spartans (7-3) certainly were aggressive, breaking open a tight game midway through the first half before closing with a 22-9 run to lead 44-31 at the break.

They were challenged at halftime by coach Tom Izzo and responded in the second half, leading by as much as 29.

"We shot the daylights out of the ball, and that was the difference," Izzo said. "I thought we took a lot of good shots and we are moving the ball well. … But we played kind of poorly the first few minutes and we really challenged them at halftime. Travis Trice came out and had four assists, a steal … he changed it.

"We only had eight turnovers, two in the second half, and had 25 assists on 34 baskets, which is an amazing stat."

Michigan State entered the game as the best 3-point shooting team in the nation at 44.1 percent. In the first half against Oakland, it was 7-for-11 before going 3-for-6 in the second half.

But it wasn't just the deep ball that helped the Spartans.

Branden Dawson scored 15 points for Michigan State and is now just two points from 1,000 for his career, standing at 998. Marvin Clark Jr. scored 12 and Matt Costello added 11 points.

Dante Williams scored 15 to lead Oakland (4-6) while Corey Petros (10 rebounds) and Kahlil Felder added 13 points each.

"I was very concerned about this game coming off finals," Izzo said. "I still have great respect for Greg's team and the way they can score the ball. Petros did a great job inside. He was a load."

The Spartans had not played in more than a week, but they showed very few signs of rust. They last played on Dec. 6 in a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff then took the week off from playing games while the players went through final exams.

For Oakland, it was just the latest stop in a typical grinder of a non-conference schedule. The Grizzlies have already played at Iowa State and play at No. 3 Arizona Tuesday. Trips to Pittsburgh, Clemson and Maryland follow before play begins in the Horizon League.

"I told our kids we have Arizona next," Kampe said. "And then we got Pitt, Clemson and Maryland and I think we can win one of those games and if we do, it will be because of tonight.

"We weren't ready for this moment. A nationally ranked team, a national coach of the year and the Izzone, even though they weren't here. We weren't ready for that. Those freshmen weren't ready for this moment. The only way to get ready for that is to be in it."

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/mattcharboneau

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