Michigan State came to Wright State to showcase the four Ohio natives on its roster before family and friends. It wasn't much of a homecoming.
Wright State (4-8) hit eight consecutive free throws over the final 3:15 -- including the clinching two by Marcus May with 13 seconds left -- as the Raiders stunned the eighth-ranked Spartans, 53-49, Thursday night.
"We were totally outplayed from start to finish," coach Tom Izzo said. "There is no question the better team won tonight."
The better team in this case was a 3-8 squad that has had losing records the last three seasons and didn't move up to Division I until 1987.
"They could have given in to disappointment, they could have listened to the people when we were 3-8 or 2-8 or whatever," Wright State coach Ed Schilling said. "But they kept the faith."
A.J. Granger of Michigan State (9-4) had 17 points in a return to his home state, but leading scorer Morris Peterson struggled all night and ended up with five points on 2-of-15 shooting. Mike Chappell added 10 points for the Spartans, who were again without All-America guard Mateen Cleaves who has missed the entire season with a stress fracture in his foot.
Izzo said he never considered putting in Cleaves, who warmed up with the team. Cleaves won't return until the Spartans open Big Ten play against Penn State on Jan. 5.
Despite being favored by 23 points, the Spartans shouldn't have overlooked Wright State, Izzo said.
"Not if you're a good team," he said. "Great teams find a way to win when they're not playing well and we didn't do that."
Michigan State came in averaging 75 points a game while shooting 48 percent from the field, but was held to a season-low point total and hit just 18 of 55 shots (33 percent).
Kevin Melson led the Raiders with 16 points, while May had 14. Thomas Hope had 10 rebounds.
"This was a win-win situation," May said. "We were 23-point underdogs."
UConn struggles but wins
HOUSTON -- Khalid El-Amin scored 27 points and No. 2 Connecticut (9-1) escaped with an 82-76 victory over Houston (6-6) after nearly blowing what looked to be a safe late lead.
The Huskies were ahead, 78-50, with 6:11 left and cruising toward a ninth straight victory when the Cougars, ignited by a previously cold Gee Gervin, went on a 26-4 run that was stopped only by the final buzzer.
"We played 33 minutes of great ball and lost our intensity," El-Amin said. "Great teams don't do that. We're lucky to get out with a win."
Kenny Younger had 24 points for Houston and Gervin finished with 19, 17 in the second half.
Hawaii cures Villanova's ills
HONOLULU -- Villanova capped the Rainbow Classic with its best game of the season. For No. 19 Wake Forest, the tournament was one it would like to forget.
The Wildcats beat Wake Forest, 70-57, in the consolation round.
"I thought we played great," Villanova coach Steve Lappas said. "It was our best game from beginning to end this season. Our defense was great, but that was set up by the offense.
"I feel a lot better than I did two days ago. And this gets us ready for the (Big East) conference."
In their opener of the eight-team tournament, the Wildcats (6-3) were routed by Colorado, 79-56. They beat Bradley by one in overtime on Wednesday.
Malik Allen, who scored 18 points and had seven rebounds, said the plan was to attack the Demon Deacons (9-3).
"We did that from the start," he said. "It's a tribute to our team. It's great to win against a ranked team."
Around the nation
Chris Porter scored 13 points to lead No. 4 Auburn to a 56-50 victory over pesky Southern Mississippi (9-2). It was the ninth straight win for Auburn (11-1) since losing to current No. 1 Stanford on Nov. 27.
Mike Miller scored 13 points and triggered a 23-0 run early in the second half to help No. 6 Florida (11-1) pull away from visiting South Alabama (4-6) for an 82-61 victory.
Freshmen Nick Collison and Drew Gooden each had 15 points to lead No. 10 Kansas (10-2) to a 71-60 victory over Saint Louis (7-4), the Jayhawks' 12th straight win in Kemper Arena. Gooden also had 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who were playing in front of an intensely partisan crowd in Kansas City, which has become their home away from home from nearby Lawrence, Kan. Justin Love had 19 points for Saint Louis and Justin Tatum added 13.
Terence Morris scored 17 points and No. 14 Maryland extended its non-league home winning streak to 71 games, limiting Maryland-Baltimore County (4-5) to 19 first-half points en route to an 82-52 victory. Danny Miller had a career-high 16 points for the Terrapins (10-2), who finished the decade without losing to a non-conference opponent at Cole Field House. The run, which began in December 1989, is the longest of its kind in the nation.
Marcus Griffin scored 24 points and Cleotis Brown added 19 as No. 20 Illinois (8-3) beat visiting Loyola of Chicago, 107-71. Lucas Johnson scored 15 points and Cory Bradford had 14 for the Illini. Jerell Parker had 13 points and Silvijie Turkovic added 12 for Loyola (8-3).
Hanno Mottola scored 23 points and Alex Jensen had 18 as No. 21 Utah beat visiting Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 71-57. Utah (10-2) won its eighth straight game and ran its home winning streak to 44 games, second in the nation to Murray State's 46. Ronnie Jones led UWM (6-5) with 15 points and Chad Angeli added 11.
Eduardo Najera scored a game-high 29 points to lead No. 22 Oklahoma (11-1) to a 64-51 victory over visiting Arkansas State (3-7) in the championship of the All-College tournament. Jamie Rosser led Arkansas State with 20 points.
Paul McPherson scored 13 points to lead five players in double figures and No. 24 DePaul beat visiting Elon, 80-56. Reserve Ayinde Avery scored 12 points and Bobby Simmons added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Demons (10-3), who have won six of seven games. Clint Walker and Brandon Rowell each had 14 points for Elon (4-7), which lost its third straight.
David Shelton scored 19 points to lead six Tulsa players in double figures as the 25th-ranked Golden Hurricane (13-1) stretched their winning streak to six games with a 113-77 victory at North Texas (2-7). Greg Harrington added 18 points, Charlie Davis and Kurtz each had 16, Eric Coley 15 and Marcus Hill 11 for the Golden Hurricane.
Ray Mercedes scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead host Cornell (5-5) to a 69-65 win over Lehigh (3-7). Mercedes hit 3 of 6 three-point shots in Cornell's effort that included Wallace Prather's 19 points, five assists and six rebounds as well as Derek Kruse's 12 points, three assists and five boards.