EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gabe Brown scored a career high 24 points, as short-handed No. 10 Michigan State pulled away in the second half to beat scrappy High Point, 81-68, Wednesday’s matchup of longtime coaching friends Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith.
The Spartans (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) were without four players, including starters Marcus Bingham Jr. and Max Christie, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
Joey Hauser had a season-high 17 points and 11 rebounds for Michigan State, while Jaden House had 11 of his 18 points in the first half for High Point (6-7).
High Point: The Panthers have been in games all season, with competitive losses to Notre Dame and UNC Wilmington, and after a 30-point win over Chowan on Nov. 27, had their next six games decided by 22 total points. They led Wednesday as late as the 12-minute mark of the second half, and had it tied 56-56 with 8:58 to go.
Michigan State: Unranked when the season began, MSU wasn’t going to let the COVID absences knock them out of the top 10, extending their win streak to seven straight since the Nov. 26 loss to No. 1 Baylor.
High Point: The Panthers play No. 19 Kentucky on Friday in Rupp Arena, where Smith will be honored in a pregame ceremony, becoming the fourth coach to have his jersey raised to the rafters. Smith led the Wildcats to 262 wins and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in 10 seasons from 1997-2007, including the 1998 national championship.
Michigan State: Izzo expects the Spartans to be at full strength when they return to Big Ten play Sunday with a visit to Northwestern, where the Wildcats knocked off then-No. 4 MSU, 79-65, last December to end a 12-game losing streak in the series.