EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- After needing some time to re-adapt to its home court, No. 18 Michigan State cruised over Delaware State.
Playing at the Breslin Center for the first time since a 50-point win over Nicholls State on November 27, the Spartans rebounded from a sluggish first half to post a 63-45 victory over the Hornets.
Delaware State controlled the tempo early and led for most of the first half, but Michigan State used a 7-0 closing run to lead, 24-22, entering the break. Chris Hill drained a 3-pointer and added a layup off a steal to put the Spartans ahead, 23-22, with 53 seconds left - their first advantage since an early 6-4 edge.
The 24 points marked Michigan State's lowest total for a half this season. Overall, it was the lowest scoring output of the season at home for the Spartans, who entered Saturday averaging 103.3 points here. "Delaware State was a really tough team to schedule and I thought they did a good job," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "You have to give them credit because they slowed the ball down."
Hill scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-8 3-pointers, to help Michigan State (6-2) improve to 4-0 at home this season.
"You start to rush on the offensive end and the shots become so much more important because you don't get as many," Hill said of the slow tempo induced by the Hornets. "We didn't do a very good job, especially in the first half, of taking advantage of the shots we had and every time we turned it over, it was just a wasted opportunity."
Kelvin Torbert, who scored 12 points, and Shannon Brown combined for nine points as Michigan State opened the second half with a 10-3 run and never looked back.
Maurice Ager, who scored nine points, put the finishing touches on the Spartans' fourth win in as many meetings against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 3-pointer with seven seconds left.
Ager, a 6-5 guard, led all players with six rebounds - one more than 6-11 center Paul Davis, who managed just five in 25 minutes for the Spartans.
"The negatives outweighed the positives and we never really got in sync," Izzo said. "No question, our rebounding is nowhere near where it needs to be or where it should be. But if you want to question what happened, question me and question the style. I really think that this time it is hard to question the guys. This one falls on me, not them."
Davis, the team's second-leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, scored just six points and dished out three assists, including two in an 18-second span of the second half to help the Spartans build a 46-32 lead with 8:54 left.
"It's frustrating but when you're out there you have to remain focused because when there are 10 seconds on the clock you have to find a way to be ready to go for whatever they throw at you," Davis said. "Once we started pressuring them in the second half, they started doing different things. I don't think we'll see it anymore this season."
Jahsha Bluntt scored 11 points for Delaware State (2-6), which held Michigan State without a field goal for a stretch of nearly eight minutes in the first half.
"We knew coming in we were going against a really good basketball team that is nationally ranked," Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said. "We wanted to limit their possession time. I thought we did an excellent job of that.
"In the second half, they came out with a little more intensity and their talent level is impressive. Then the crowd kind of took over, and I thought that was the difference of the ballgame."
Troy Roundtree scored five points in the first half for the Hornets but did not return after suffering an apparent leg injury just 19 seconds into the second.