Kalani Brown had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Shizz Alston Jr. scored 20 and No. 6 Baylor closed the second half on a 19-4 run for a 75-58 victory over No. 8 Michigan State on Thursday night in the championship game of the Paradise Jam at St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Eli Cain scored 14 points for the Bears (5-0), who struggled offensively in the first half and shot 31.4% overall. Alston Jr. scored six points during the spurt, including a layup and a long 3-pointer.
Kyle Ahrens scored 16 points and Eron Harris added 14 for the Spartans (4-1), who appeared worn down in the final minutes. They were held scoreless in the final four minutes and never got closer than eight points.
Michigan State got off to a rough start when it missed its first four shots and committed five turnovers while falling behind 14-5. And the shooting didn’t get any better after that. Michigan State made just 2 of 17 shots in the first half and was down by double digits at the break.
Trailing 32-20 with four minutes left, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo shook things up by replacing guard Cassius Winston with Duncan Robinson in the starting lineup. Winston had started the last two games, making the all-tournament team after scoring 20 points in the championship game last year against Tulane. Robinson entered the game and had three points in the first five minutes.
The Spartans looked fresh in the second half, although they struggled to even get open shots. Michigan State cut it to 34-28 on Harris’ fast-break basket with 15:08 left, but Baylor quickly answered on Alston’s jumper and Cain’s baseline drive.
Williams was fouled and made two free throws to make it 39-28.
Brown made a three-point play and Alston made a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 14 points. Boeheim made a 3-pointer to make it 54-39 and the lead steadily grew into double figures.
Baylor: Elisha Olabode, a 6-8 senior who spent two seasons at the University of Toledo and transferred to Baylor after that, played his first college game on Thursday. He scored four points. … Alston has hit at least one 3-pointer in each of the Bears’ games this season.
Michigan State: Junior forward Nick Ward, who entered the game averaging a team-leading 17.0 points and 7.9 rebounds, was held scoreless in 16 minutes. The 6-9-inch Ward also did not have an offensive rebound or putback. … Several visiting Kansas players visited players during an early morning practice. The Jayhawks ended up coming in third, their highest finish since winning the Bahamas tournament in 2016.
Baylor is back home to host Tennessee State on Saturday.
Michigan State begins play in the Paradise Jam with a 9 p.m. game against Southern California on Saturday.