Auburn Hills — The box score might not say Deyonta Davis had a big game on Tuesday, but that would be terribly misleading.
The Michigan State freshman was as big as anyone in the Spartans’ 99-93 overtime victory over Oakland at The Palace. He scored five points in overtime, including a driving layup from the low post with 59 seconds to play that put the Spartans ahead for good.
It was just the latest sign of growth for the former Mr. Basketball as he finished with 11 points and four rebounds. And it came after Davis did something that surprised coach Tom Izzo.
With senior Denzel Valentine on the bench following knee surgery, Davis realized the Spartans needed something more. On Monday night, the soft-spoken Davis sent a text to Valentine that was immediately relayed to Izzo.
“He said he wasn’t going to let him down,” Izzo explained. “He’s just grown so much.”
It was out of character for Davis, but something he felt like he needed to do.
“We had a man down so I felt like I had to step up and help carry the team,” Davis said. “Just doing the things Zel does to motivate the team and that’s what I did.”
Davis said it was as much his approach in practice as it was his play in the game.
His play in the game was needed as Davis scored five straight in the extra session. His first bucket was a dunk off a miss by Matt Costello before he split a pair of free throws. He followed that with his drive that put Michigan State ahead for keeps.
“He’s gonna get more minutes,” Izzo said. “He made a couple of big plays down the stretch
Harris plays role
It was also a huge night for junior guard Eron Harris, who started in place of Valentine and scored 27 points, his most in a Michigan State uniform.
“I’m not really worried about the points I scored,” Harris said. ”That’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m just glad I got to be part of the win and making history.’”
The history came with Michigan State’s 13th straight victory to open the season, and plenty of it was because of the play of Harris, a transfer from West Virginia who once scored 33 for the Mountaineers.
But following the game he wasn’t thinking only about his play.
“I feel like a lot of guys stepped up and played,” Harris said. “Me, Alvin (Ellis), even Kyle (Ahrens) and Matt (McQuaid) and Gavin (Schilling) hitting big free throws.
“Everybody did what they had to do. We can’t do this alone. I’m happy for me but I’m happy for my teammates and happy for the program.”
Michigan State improved to 14-0 against Oakland and 14-2 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was also Michigan State’s first overtime game since it beat Louisville, 76-70, in last season’s NCAA East Regional final.
… Costello recorded his second double-double of the season and fifth of his career with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Spartans are 4-1 all-time when Costello records a double-double.
… MSU faced its largest deficit of the season at 15 with 7:16 left in the first half, trailing 34-19. The Spartans also tied a season-best 99 points, matching their 99-68 victory over Boston College on Nov. 26.
… The Spartans are 13-4 when ranked No. 1. This is just the fourth time in school history and the 10th week overall that MSU has held the top spot in the AP Top 25.