Annapolis, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Michigan State's decision to open its season on the road against Navy almost backfired, but the 18th-ranked Spartans held off the Midshipmen and escaped Alumni Hall with a 64-59 win on Friday.
The Veterans Classic was competitive throughout despite the Midshipmen being picked by many pundits to finish last in the Patriot League.
Travis Trice connected on five 3-pointers en route to a 25-point night for the Spartans (1-0), who are tying to fill the void left by star seniors Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.
Branden Dawson did his part with 12 points and eight rebounds, but MSU committed 15 turnovers and only got to the foul line 10 times -- twice over the first 37 minutes.
Edward Alade netted a team-high 12 points for the Midshipmen (0-1), who returned all five starters from last season's 9-21 club. Brandon Venturini added 11 points, five assists and five rebounds in the setback.
Navy won the only other meeting against MSU back in 1986 when David Robinson was the big man on campus in Annapolis.
Even without "The Admiral", Navy started strong and led 18-14 near the midway point of the opening half.
MSU countered with an 11-0 run and appeared ready to pull away after Trice connected on a pair of 3-pointers to open the second half.
The second triple gave the Spartans their biggest lead at 42-29, but Navy quickly responded with 10 straight points prior to the first official timeout.
After Jace Hogan's bucket inside had the Midshipmen within 44-43, the Spartans scored nine of the next 11 points to create some breathing room.
Navy never relented and cut the deficit to 60-57 following two Will Kelly free throws with 1:57 remaining.
Trice got a rainbow to fall on the ensuing possession, then hit a big free throw with 17.3 seconds remaining to make it a 63-59 game.
Venturini missed a straightaway 3-point try at the other end, and MSU held on from there.
This was the first time an active member of the Big Ten played at Navy since Ohio State made a visit on Feb. 6, 1932 ... Michigan State won 29 games last season and reached the Elite Eight before falling to eventual-champion Connecticut ... The Spartans play No. 4 Duke on Tuesday.