East Lansing, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Keith Appling scored 17 points in a reserve role, as top-ranked Michigan State cruised to a 98-65 victory over Mount St. Mary's at the Breslin Center.
Appling, second-leading scorer Adriean Payne and leading rebounder Branden Dawson started the game on the bench as punishment for classroom attendance issues. Leading scorer Gary Harris was also sidelined because of a minor ankle injury he sustained last week against Oklahoma.
"It's just a minor little thing," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of the benchings. "It was over a class that they needed to be at. They decided to try their way and their way didn't work. That was all that there was to that. As far as Gary goes, I made that choice and it seemed like the right thing to do. He wanted to play, he's fine, it's just that his ankle has plateaued a little bit and it just doesn't feel quite as comfortable."
Travis Trice made his first career start and chipped in 15 points for Michigan State (7-0), which is off until Wednesday when North Carolina visits as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Harris is likely to play against the Tar Heels.
Will Miller scored 15 points to lead Mount St. Mary's (2-6), which had won its last two games after an 0-5 start. Julian Norfleet added 13 points in defeat.
The Mountaineers were able to stay close for the first six minutes with the Michigan State trio on the bench. A three by Sam Prescott drew Mount St. Mary's even at 19-19 and the Mountaineers were still within 35-31 with just over six minutes left in the half.
Payne, Appling and Dawson then took over, combining for all of Michigan State's points in a 13-5 run that created some separation. Payne hit a pair of threes and Appling scored five points, including a dunk that made it 48-36 with just over two minutes left.
The Spartans went to the break with a 50-38 advantage and opened the second half with the first 10 points to blow it open. Michigan State cruised from there and led by as many as 36.
"Michigan State, obviously the No. 1 team in the country, definitely played like it today, especially there in the second half," said Mount St. Mary's coach Jamion Christian. "We always want to measure ourselves against the very best and I felt like we did that today for about 25 minutes."
Denzel Valentine also scored 15 points and added seven assists with five rebounds for the Spartans ... Payne scored eight points and Dawson corralled a game-high 10 rebounds ... Michigan State has won 74 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at the Breslin Center ... Mount St. Mary's fell to 0-2 against No. 1 teams, previously dropping a 113-74 decision to North Carolina in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament ... Michigan State has won both meetings with Mount St. Mary's, including a 76-53 triumph in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament.