By HOWIE RUMBERG/AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Adreian Payne had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds, Keith Appling had 13 points and seven assists, and top-ranked Michigan State beat Virginia Tech 96-77 on Friday night in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Gary Harris scored 19 despite shooting just 2 for 12 on 3-pointers and Branden Dawson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans.
Michigan State (5-0) will play Oklahoma in the final Saturday night. The Sooners rallied to beat Seton Hall 86-85 in the first semifinal.
Hokies senior Jarrell Eddie had 23 points – 17 in the first half. Adam Smith scored 27 as Virginia Tech (3-2) fell to 4-8 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press college basketball poll.
After struggling against Columbia and Portland State in their two games since beating then-No. 1 Kentucky, the Spartans appeared as if they put their early troubles behind them in jumping out to a quick five-point lead.
But Eddie and the Hokies came back, even going up 28-27 with 7:09 left in the half on Adam Smith’s 3-pointer – Virginia Tech was 6 for 9 on 3s for the half.
That was it, though.
Dunks. Long 3s. Inside and out, Michigan State dominated. Payne hit a 3 with 2 seconds left in the half to make it 46-33, his 20th point of the half – and leaving one final message that the past two games were not the norm for this powerhouse squad.
Eddie hit a 3 with 19:05 to go in the game. But Virginia Tech didn’t score again until he made another 3 more than 4 minutes later. By then, the Spartans opened up a 20-point lead.
Payne and Appling hit 3s, Gavin Schilling had a tip-in and Dawson made a breakaway dunk after a steal to make it 69-39, finishing the play with a “Whoop!” after he missed a big dunk attempt earlier and was shaken up.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)