COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Decided underdog LIU provided Michigan State a spirited, brisk challenge Friday night, but the math still doesn't work for a No. 16 NCAA Tournament seed against a No. 1. Michigan State withstood early LIU blows from both inside and out and steadily pulled away for an 89-67 victory.
LIU (25-9) was down by only five at the half, 42-37, and was shooting 50 percent -- including 5-for-8 from three-point range, each of those five by a different player, including little-used junior forward Booker Hucks of Bay Shore. But from the beginning, dread lurked for LIU near the basket because of Michigan State's imposing size.
On the broad shoulders of power frontliners Adreian Payne (6-10), Derrick Nix (6-9) and Draymond Green (6-7), Michigan State (28-7) got eight of its first 10 baskets on layups or dunks. Thirty-four of its 42 first-half points resulted from shots in the free-throw lane.
That early-and-often sign of large trouble for LIU soon enough morphed into worse news: Green, who looks like a center yet often appears to be playing all five positions at once, finished with game-high totals in points (24), rebounds (11) and assists (nine). He made 10 of 17 field-goal attempts -- 2-for-4 from three-point range -- and also had a steal.
A layup by junior forward Julian Boyd -- "Big Boyd," in Brooklyn vernacular -- brought LIU within 44-40 early in the second half, but Nix, Green and Payne again pounded inside to quickly raise the lead to 13, at 60-47, and growing.
Nix finished with 18 points, Payne had 16 and sophomore guard Keith Appling added 10. For LIU, junior forward Jamal Olasewere scored 17 points and Boyd and junior guard C.J. Garner had 15 each. Sophomore point guard Jason Brickman had seven assists.
Besides the final score, the other overwhelming numbers for Michigan State were in rebounding (43-19) and shooting percentage (58.8 to 44.0).