Two teams from the state of Michigan (Oakland and Michigan State) needed wins on Saturday and both teams found ways to hold on to leads late to secure much-needed victories.
Oakland Unversity from the Horizon League just lost the night before on their home court by 39 points to Wright State. Michigan State earlier in the week lost on the road by 25 points to Minnesota.
The Golden Grizzlies started their season 0-9 before winning two games on the road against Detroit Mercy in conference play. The Spartans started Big Ten play 0-3 before winning on the road against Nebraska. However, Saturday night ended well for both schools.
Wright State has dominated Oakland of late and the Raiders entered their second game of the weekend looking to once again defeat the Golden Grizzlies. However, head coach Greg Kampe had other plans and looked to pull off the upset and deny Wright State the 6-0 conference start that they so desired.
Michigan State desperately needed a conference win as the Spartans are not used to starting Big Ten play 0-3. Michigan State has won outright and or shared the Big Ten regular-season title the past three seasons. If head coach Tom Izzo and his team were to lose to Nebraska, then all hope of repeating as Big Ten champions would no longer be feasible.
Oakland came out and had a double-digit lead for a decent portion of the game against Wright State in the first half before the Raiders went on a run to close out the half with a three-point halftime lead. In the second half, a backcourt tandem that coach Kampe has referenced can be the best backcourt amongst all mid-major programs, really stepped up in Rashad Williams and Jalen Moore.
The Golden Grizzlies would end up outscoring Wright State 44-31 in the second half to give Oakland the upset victory with the final score being 81-71. Willams ended the game with 18 points before fouling out of the game and Moore had 24 points, 12 assists, and four steals.
Michigan State trailed early 11-13 but played well the last 12 minutes of the first half to go into halftime with a seven-point lead. The Spartans were led by two upperclassmen in Aaron Henry and Joshua Langford in the second half of play as their teammates relied on both of them to lead them to a road conference win.
Henry would have a career-high 27 points to lead all scorers and Langford had 15 points, two assists, and two steals. Michigan State would come away with a much needed 84-77 victory against Nebraska to get their first Big Ten win of the season.
Both Oakland and Michigan State have had a roller coaster-like ride of late but both schools fought hard and found a way to come away with much need victories as both schools are fighting for the opportunity to climb back into their respected conference title chases. Both Kampe and Izzo look forward to next week as both schools strive to get better and win some conference games to inch closer to the top of their conference standings.