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Stony Brook can’t pull off upset vs. No. 2 Michigan State

Elijah Olaniyi scores 16 points to lead the Seawolves (0-4).

Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr., center, drives against

Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr., center, drives against Stony Brook's Akwasi Yeboah (15) and UC Iroegbu (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Breslin Center on Nov. 19, 2017, in East Lansing, Mich. Photo Credit: AP / Al Goldis

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Stony Brook players vowed they wouldn’t be intimidated by playing second-ranked Michigan State here before a raucous crowd, and that much proved true. The Seawolves played with a tenacity and doggedness that kept them in the game well into the second half.

But Michigan State is a national title contender for a reason. With a roster featuring some NBA prospects, the Spartans proved to be too deep and talented for Stony Brook to finish what would have been a major early-season upset.

Michigan State won, 93-71, before 14,797 at Breslin Center in a game that was more competitive than the final score would indicate. That’s a familiar theme for Stony Brook, which also has been involved in hard-fought losses to major conference programs Maryland and Connecticut en route to going 0-4.

Stony Brook second-year coach Jeff Boals knew what he was in for with this schedule, and he left the on-campus arena sounding about as optimistic as someone with an 0-4 record can be.

“Coming in here in this atmosphere against the number two team in the country, I was really worried about us competing, and we did that,” Boals said. “And I’m proud of our guys.”

“I watched their games against UConn and Maryland and I think Jeff is doing a hell of a job,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “They’re playing a brutal schedule.”

Stony Brook led for much of the first 20 minutes before a late spurt gave Michigan State a 44-38 halftime lead. The Spartans gained control in the second half by shooting 17-for-27 (63 percent) and outrebounding Stony Brook 20-6.

Nick Ward scored 22 points and shot 8-for-10 for Michigan State. Miles Bridges added 20 points before leaving with a sprained left ankle and Joshua Langford had 19.

Stony Brook was led by Elijah Olaniyi’s 16 points off the bench and Akwasi Yeboah’s 15.

Boals had stressed the importance of a good start, and the Seawolves responded by opening a 22-15 lead after 10 straight Stony Brook points by Olaniyi. But Michigan State grabbed the lead for good at 34-33 with 3:33 left.

“They’re pretty good defensively,” said Izzo, whose team had a decided physical advantage around the basket. “We shot the ball really well because I think we wore them down inside a little bit. We had a lot of subs. Those guys, they don’t have as much depth.”

Said Boals, “I think we did get a little tired and gave them some easy baskets.” But he was pleased by his team’s effort against a better opponent just two days after a disappointing second-half breakdown at Ball State.

“Nothing really matters now record-wise until we get to the conference,” sophomore Mike Almonacy said. “Just going against and making sure we’re competing against these higher opponents, playing defense right, then we can grow as a team so when conference starts, we’ll start winning these type of games.”

Hofstra falls. Mustapha Heron had 22 points as Auburn beat Hofstra, 89-78, to take third place at the Charleston Classic. Eli Pemberton scored 23 points and Justin Wright-Foreman had 16 for Hofstra (3-2).

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