Leave it to a former Horizon League star to stick it to Oakland as it tried to pull off yet another upset of a No. 1 team by a mid-major squad.
Cleveland State expat Bryn Forbes stepped into the hole created by the injury to Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, and scored a career-high 32 points to lead Michigan State to a 99-93 overtime win at the Palace of Auburn Hills. That is big news for the Spartans who will be without maybe the best player in the country for two to three weeks. If Forbes can play like this, they have nothing to worry about.
But worry they did, especially for the first 30 minutes of the game as Oakland went crazy and kept the partisan crowd silent for the majority of the game.
It was all due to the play of Kay Felder, who is continuing to make a name for himself outside of the confines of the Horizon League. The junior star scored 37 points, including a 3-for-7 performance from 3-point range, and added nine assists, to lead the Golden Grizzlies.
If he hadn't have fouled out with a minute remaining in overtime, he may have been able to will Oakland to a win all on his own with the way he was playing. While the team certainly seemed worn down in the extra period -- they missed every shot, and only scored from the line -- he was able to keep drawing the defense and scare them into a foul.
That was because Felder scored nine of the final 11 points for Oakland in regulation, and had been a thorn in the side of every Michigan State defender over the first 40 minutes.
This was unfortunately a big missed opportunity for Oakland, who led the game by 13 at halftime. They earned a nice win against Washington over the weekend, and have a game remaining against Virginia, but they have missed out on every other opportunity to score that signature win this season.
This may have come down to three moments in the game that really tipped the scales for the Spartans. The first game with 13 minutes remaining in the second half. As Forbes drove to the basket, he took a hard foul from 3-point specialist Max Hooper (basketball superhero name if ever there was one). It was called a flagrant one; Forbes made both free throws and then knocked in a three on the ensuing possession to cut the Oakland lead to four.
A few minutes later, Michigan State had an extended possession with two offensive rebounds and a won jump ball, that allowed Forbes to score a 3-pointer that put Michigan State ahead for the first time since two minutes into the game.
And then there was the moment when Felder fouled out. He held onto the ball as he walked to the bench and finally let it go as he reached the line, and it dribbled away from the Oakland star.
It was that moment when the game rolled away from the Golden Grizzlies for good, and preserved Michigan State's No. 1 ranking.