East Lansing — While Michigan State hasn't come up with a signature victory this season, it has at least avoided what has been a bit of problem in the Big Ten thus far — losing to an undermanned mid-major.
Michigan has already done it twice, dropping games to New Jersey Institute of Technology and Eastern Michigan. Nebraska has losses to Rhode Island and Incarnate Word while Purdue fell to North Florida.
And Saturday, Maryland flirted with disaster against South Carolina Upstate.
So entering Sunday's game against Oakland, there were reasons to be concerned. The Spartans hadn't played in more than a week while taking final exams and with the students on break and a late start on a Sunday, there was a chance the crowd wouldn't quite be at the level of most nights.
However, Michigan State was able to avoid any such misstep with an 87-61 win over Oakland.
"I was very concerned about this game coming off finals," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
His team did its job of erasing any of those concerns, shooting nearly 60 percent from 3-point range and running away from the Golden Grizzlies in the second half.
And the crowd did its part, as well, something that made Izzo take notice.
"I want to thank our fans because I was concerned about the time," Izzo said. "An 8 o'clock start and I'm not crazy about that on a Sunday night. There were no students here and that's usually when we get families here, but it's hard to have families when there is school the next day. I was more than excited by the crowd we had and the way they got into the game. Even though Wednesday is a 9 o'clock game (against Eastern Michigan), we'll need them more for that game, is I'd appreciate it if they find a way to get to that one."
Michigan State will have to stay on high alert over the next couple of weeks as it closes out its non-conference schedule.
On Wednesday, MSU faces an Eastern Michigan team that has beaten Michigan and Oakland before hosting Texas Southern and The Citadel. Michigan State opens Big Ten play with Maryland on Dec. 30.
Freshman guard Javon Bess dressed for the first time Sunday and Izzo even contemplated playing him for a few minutes.
"I almost played Bess tonight a little bit," Izzo said. "I figured I'd give him one more time, make sure he practices full, full speed. He's practiced three-quarters twice and tomorrow we're turning him loose. He has had no problems and is chomping at the bit."
Bess said he was fine with not playing Sunday and is looking forward to his first action.
"We know it was best for me to sit out and be ready for Wednesday," Bess said. "I'm very excited. I'll be ready by the time the game starts."
Junior Bryn Forbes reached a milestone with his first basket on Sunday, eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his career. The first 905 came the last two seasons at Cleveland State.
After scoring 12 on Sunday, Forbes has 1,010 career points.
He was nearly joined in that group by senior Branden Dawson, who needed 17 points to reach 1,000. He scored 15 against Oakland and now stands at 998. When Dawson does get his next two points, likely on Wednesday, he'll become the 46th player in Michigan State history to reach 1,000 points.
… Michigan State is in the midst of a seven-game home stand, the longest under Izzo and the longest for the Spartans since 1942. It comes after playing six of the first eight games on the road.
… For the fourth time this season, five players scored in double figures for MSU. At least five players scored in double figures in four games all last season.