EAST LANSING, Mich. – Keith Appling scored 16 of his career-high tying 27 points in the first half to help No. 5 Michigan State pull away and rout New Orleans 101-48 Saturday.
The Spartans (11-1) struggled for several minutes before taking control with a 12-0 run midway through the first half. They led 44-27 at halftime and easily added to their comfortable cushion in the second half, finishing with their highest-scoring game since beating Nebraska-Omaha 110-68 two years ago.
The Privateers (3-5) had won two straight, including its previous game at UTEP.
New Orleans’ Matt Derenbecker scored 16 and Cory Dixon had 11 points.
Gary Harris scored 19 on 7-of-17 shooting and Adreian Payne had 17 points for the Spartans in their final tuneup before beginning the Big Ten season Tuesday night at Penn State. Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine had 10 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six assists.
The Spartans rested starting forward Branden Dawson because of a shin bruise.
Appling bounced back from a bad game, equaling the career high in scoring that he set last month against Oklahoma. The senior point guard was held to four points, playing with a hip pointer, after making just 2 of 11 shots in last week’s 14-point win at Texas. He also matched a season high with eight assists and grabbed five rebounds against New Orleans.
Harris responded with a poor start against New Orleans with a solid game offensively. The sophomore shooting guard was 0 for 5 before a second straight 3-pointer capped Michigan State’s pivotal run that gave it a 21-10 lead.
Before the burst, the Spartans had more turnovers (six) than made shots (four) against a fired-up team aiming for an upset.
New Orleans, a Southland Conference school, couldn’t sustain its early success and fell to 7-30 against ranked teams.