BOWLING GREEN (AP) -- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had a bad feeling before he brought his No. 20 Spartans to Bowling Green for a rare road game against the Mid-American Conference school.
He knew firsthand what could happen.
Izzo was an assistant coach with the Spartans 22 years ago when host Bowling Green stunned a top-10 Michigan State team -- and for a while Tuesday night it appeared history might repeat itself.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine scored 12 points apiece, and Branden Dawson added 10 to lead the Spartans to a 64-53 win over the Falcons.
"Behind closed doors I was worried to death about this game," Izzo said. "I really was."
The Spartans (10-2) struggled to put the game away and were tied at 45 midway through the second half when their defense clamped down, holding the Falcons to just two points over a six-minute stretch in the second half and only one field goal the rest of the way.
"If we're going to be a good team, we have to come here and win this game," Izzo said, crediting his defense for wearing down Bowling Green (5-5).
Bowling Green's Chauncey Orr had tied it at 45 with 10 minutes left, but that's when Michigan State's defense took over.
The Spartans went on a 14-2 run highlighted by Dawson's dunk after a steal, drawing a big cheer from the many Michigan State fans filling the Bowling Green arena.
Orr, who had a career-high 16 points, missed the final 10 minutes with cramps after hitting the tying basket. He went to the locker room twice to get treatment.
The Falcons couldn't do anything offensively without him. It was a breakout game for Orr, the son of Falcons coach Louis Orr, who was at a loss to explain his team's late drought.
"We were right there," he said. "That's tough to overcome."
It was Michigan State's first time back in Bowling Green since 1990 when they were ranked fifth and lost to the Falcons. Former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote vowed they'd never return.
Few Big Ten teams have been willing to go on the road against Mid-American Conference teams, though most are nearby. Bowling Green has been a giant killer at home over the years, beating three of four Big Ten teams that had visited in the last 22 years prior to Tuesday.
Izzo said he likes taking his teams into tough environments even when it might not be the smartest decision.
"I'll probably keep doing it because I'm dumb," he said.
Michigan State, normally one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, only had three more rebounds than the Falcons.
"They outworked us on that," Izzo said.
But the Spartans did hold Bowling Green to 33-percent shooting from the field (19-of-58). They also shut down Bowling Green's top scorer, holding Jordon Crawford to 10 points -- six below his average.
The Spartans had to rely on Harris and Valentine with leading scorer Keith Appling having a tough shooting night.
Harris struggled for the first time all season in his last outing, when he hit just one shot from the field and missed all five 3-point attempts against Tuskegee. Appling matched his career high of 25 points last week, but scored just two in the first half and finished with nine against the Falcons.
Derrick Nix added nine points and eight rebounds for Michigan State.
The Spartans got off to another sluggish start, turning over the ball on three of their first four possessions and giving up several easy baskets in the first half.
Branden Kearney's jumper at the buzzer put the Spartans up 34-29 at the end of the half.
Orr kept the Falcons close early on, matching his career high for a game with 11 points in the first half.
No. 4 ARIZONA 89, ORAL ROBERTS 64
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Mark Lyons scored 17 points, Grant Jerrett added 15 and No. 4 Arizona showed no signs of a letdown after its biggest win of the season, rolling over Oral Roberts 89-64.
NO. 9 KANSAS 87, RICHMOND 59
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Jeff Withey had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Ben McLemore added 14 points and Kansas used another big first-half run to put away Richmond.
NO. 18 SAN DIEGO ST. 76, POINT LOMA NAZARENE 49
SAN DIEGO -- Xavier Thames scored 17 points and Chase Tapley added 15 as San Diego State beat Point Loma Nazarene, the Aztecs' ninth straight win since opening with a loss to No. 3 Syracuse.
NO. 25 N.C. STATE 88, STANFORD 79
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lorenzo Brown scored 18 of his season-high 24 points after halftime to help North Carolina State pull away and beat Stanford.
PURDUE 66, BALL ST. 56
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A.J. Hammons scored 15 points to help Purdue defeat Ball State 66-56.
Terone Johnson scored 14 points, D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson scored 11 each and Jacob Lawson added six points and 11 rebounds for the Boilermakers (5-6).
NEBRASKA 59, JACKSONVILLE ST. 55
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Dylan Talley hit a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left to seal Nebraska's 59-55 win over Jacksonville State Tuesday night.
Nebraska (7-3) led 50-35 after a pair of Talley free throws with 7 minutes remaining. Jacksonville State (8-3) then outscored the Cornhuskers 18-4, closing with 56-55 on Ronnie Boggs' corner 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.
AKRON 76, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 46
AKRON -- Brian Walsh had 14 points and Zeke Marshall had 13 points and five blocked shots as Akron dominated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-46 Tuesday night in nonconference action.
The Zips (5-4) entered 19th in the nation with 8.6 3-pointers per game and connected on 11 of 34 treys Tuesday, including Walsh's 4-of-9 performance.
SOUTH FLORIDA 72, YOUNGSTOWN ST. 54
TAMPA, Fla. --Victor Rudd posted season highs of 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead South Florida to a 72-54 victory over Youngstown State.
Anthony Collins added 14 points and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick finished with 11 for South Florida (6-3).