EAST LANSING, Mich. – Keith Appling scored 19 points, including all 12 of his free throws, and had seven rebounds to lead No. 19 Michigan State over Lehigh 90-81 on Thursday night.
Reserve Draymond Green added 16 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season for the Spartans (11-2), who have won 11 straight. The three-year captain was 7 minutes late for a morning meeting and shot just 5 for 17 from the field, but his impact was felt at the both ends of the court for Michigan State.
Branden Dawson had 14 points and eight rebounds, while surprise starter Austin Thornton added 11 points and seven boards.
Holden Greiner had 24 points for the Mountain Hawks (9-4), who had won nine of their previous 10. C.J. McCollum added 19 points and Mackey McKnight and Gabe Knutson had 14 each.
Lehigh shot 42.4 percent from the field to Michigan State's 40.3, but the Spartans — last in the Big Ten in free throw percentage — hit 82.1 percent at the line and had a 50-31 edge on the boards.
The Mountain Hawks trailed 11-5 before an 11-0 run gave them a five-point lead. Greiner, a Michigan native, scored nine of those points, including a pair of 3s.
The Spartans drew even a few minutes later, and the lead went back and forth the rest of the half. Michigan State finished with five straight free throws for a 35-33 edge, only to go three down in a hurry.
With a foul to give, freshman Brandan Kearney fouled McCollum well away from the basket with 4 seconds left. But a vigorously disputed continuation call by official Tom O'Neill gave McCollum the basket and three free throws, including two for a technical foul on Spartans coach Tom Izzo.
Lehigh outscored Michigan State 15-0 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, going 5 for 12 while the Spartans were 0 for 2. That more than negated the hosts' 26-14 rebound advantage.
Michigan State quickly tied the game in the second half, then took a 45-41 lead on free throws by Thornton and Green, the first two coming after a technical on Lehigh coach Brett Reed.
When Thornton hit the Spartans' first 3 of the night with 13:10 left, the lead swelled and Travis Trice made it a seven-point game from deep a minute later. After a steal, Trice fired a long pass to Brandon Wood for a layup and a nine-point cushion.
A three-point play by Dawson made it a 13-point game and ended any thought of an upset. But Michigan State was left with plenty to work on before unbeaten Indiana visits Breslin Center next Wednesday in its conference opener.
Lehigh also returns to action next Wednesday with a game at St. Peter's.