WORCESTER, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- It was a tough game, but Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was able to continue his winning formula in the NCAA Tournament.
Alan Anderson led a balanced scoring effort with 15 points as fifth-seeded Michigan State was able to avoid a trap and advance with an 89-81 first-round victory over No. 12 Old Dominion in the Austin Region.
Izzo, who has guided the Spartans (23-6) to a school-record eight straight tournament appearances, improved to 20-6 in the NCAAs. His winning percentage of 77 percent is the second-best mark among active coaches behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.
Michigan State next will face No. 13 Vermont, which shocked Syracuse, 60-57, in overtime in the earlier game here.
Early on, it did not look like that record would be improved upon when the Monarchs (28-6) made 6-of-11 3-pointers and pushed around the Spartans physically for a 42-37 halftime lead.
"I was disappointed in the first half with the energy that we brought," Izzo said. "I'm not used to teams playing harder than our teams."
Opening up the game in the second half and taking advantage of numerous misses by Old Dominion, Michigan State stormed ahead, 51-48, on a fast-break layup by Chris Hill with 14:01 remaining.
"In the first half, they did some stuff that we didn't know they were going to do," Michigan State guard Shannon Brown said. "We came out in the second half, made our adjustments and made a little run. Everybody did something to contribute."
Not backing down, the Monarchs closed within 76-75 with 3:48 remaining on four straight points by guard Isaiah Hunter. Brown responded with a spinning fast-break layup and the ensuing free throw for a three-point play, igniting a 9-2 run that put the Spartans ahead, 85-77, with 44 seconds to play.
"They are a postseason-savvy team," Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said of the Spartans. "Experience perhaps might have been a determining factor in this game."
Anderson added four free throws down the stretch to seal the win for Michigan State, which had six players score at least nine points. All told, the Spartans went 28-for-36 from the line, including 10-of-11 in the final 7:22.
Paul Davis scored 14 points and Maurice Ager and Kelvin Torbert chipped in 13 apiece for Michigan State, which shot 57 percent (29-of-51) and topped Old Dominion on fast-break points, 20-4.
"That's what we do," Izzo said. "We are maybe the best fast-break team that I've had, especially after a made basket."
Australia native Alex Loughton collected 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for Old Dominion, which shot just 32 percent (10-of-31) in the second half, including 1-of-9 from the arc.
"I thought we had some pretty decent looks," Taylor said. "Had we made a few that would have made a difference."