EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- With a lengthy trip to Alaska looming, the best-case scenario for No. 10 Michigan State was to take North Carolina-Asheville out of the game early - and it did just that.
Chris Hill scored 18 points and Aloysius Anagonye added 11 as the Spartans scored the game's first 11 points en route to a 66-52 victory over the Bulldogs.
Hill scored five points while Michigan State held UNC-Asheville scoreless for the first five minutes. The Spartans came out hot, shooting 55 percent (16-for-29) in the decisive first half on their way to a 38-24 halftime advantage.
Michigan State (1-0), favored to win the Big Ten, improved to 83-21 all-time in season openers. The Spartans face Montana Thursday in the Great Alaska Shootout.
"I really wasn't satisfied with the play as far as not having a killer instinct to get things done and not taking care of the ball at key times," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We got very lazy. At times, our freshmen were too casual. We seemed to play in spurts, and that's not good for our basketball team."
Andre Smith scored 18 points and Bryan McCullough contributed 12 for the overmatched Bulldogs (0-1), who finished tied for the Big South title last season.
Hill, who averaged 11.5 points per game as a freshman last season, came out firing, missing a 3-pointer before connecting from behind the arc and sinking a layup. Alan Anderson sank two free throws and Adam Ballinger scored. A bucket by Tim Bograkos gave the Spartans an 11-0 lead 3:51 into the contest.
"We came out ready to go and played hard," Ballinger said. "You see how well we can play in a three-to-five-minute period but then we have a little letdown. Somebody hits a three and we have a letdown. If we can sustain that we can be pretty good,"
Michigan State's largest lead came with 2:17 left in the half when Eraze Lorbek's basket gave it a 34-17 lead.
Hill had five assists and two steals and Anagonye collected a team-high six rebounds for the Spartans, who shot 49 percent (25-of-51) from the field and enjoyed a 34-24 edge on the boards.
"There were stretches where we played well, but it's being able to sustain it over a 40-minute period," Hill said. "That's something this team has to pick up and learn how to do."
With the departure of point guard Marcus Taylor to the NBA, Hill also handled most of the point guard duties. Junior college transfer Rashi Johnson was expected to start at the point, but instead played just 11 minutes off the bench, dishing out three assists and committing two turnovers.
Ballinger had nine points and freshman reserve Paul Davis chipped in with nine and four rebounds for Michigan State.
Trailing 58-44, the Bulldogs slashed the deficit to single digits when Chad Mohn nailed a 3-pointer and Joseph Barber sank both ends of a one-and-one, but they were unable to move closer.
"They don't let you get to the basket," said UNC-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach, whose team shot just 41 percent (20-of-49) from the field. "You can shoot some jump shots from time to time but you can't get rebounds when you play from outside the perimeter in."