East Lansing, MI – Keith Appling scored 19 points, Branden Dawson had 12 and the 15th-ranked Michigan State Spartans held on to beat the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, 63-60, at the Breslin Center.
Appling also compiled six rebounds and five assists, while Dawson's inability to seal the win with free throws gave Louisiana an opportunity to tie the game.
Down 10 with 3:09 remaining, the Ragin' Cajuns closed to within 62-60 inside the final minute.
Elfrid Payton missed a layup after recording his seventh steal of the game. Michigan State's Denzel Valentine managed to get back on the play and block the shot. However, Kevin Brown was on the spot to convert the putback.
The Spartans came up empty on their next possession and Shawn Long failed to connect on a drive to the hoop.
Dawson grabbed the rebound and went to the line with six seconds to play. He made the first attempt but missed the second. Michigan State (5-1), though, prevailed when Payton's deep 3-point try was off the mark.
"We have moments, moments don't create good seasons, they create a good win here and there," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
Payton posted 20 points and six rebounds for Louisiana (2-4). Long and Brown supported him with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
"We had an opportunity at the end, and that's really all you can ask for," said Louisiana coach Bob Marlin.
The Ragin' Cajuns led by as many as seven early on, but Russell Byrd and Brandan Kearney drained consecutive 3-pointers to give Michigan State its first lead at 23-21 with 6:53 to play in the first half.
Michigan State was up 33-27 at the break and stretched its advantage to 46-36 on two Appling free throws with 11:23 left.
The Spartans have won 67 straight home games against unranked non-conference opponents ... Kearney finished with 10 points ... Michigan State shot 42.6 percent, slightly better than Louisiana (40.4 percent) ... The Ragin' Cajuns missed 10 free throws.