Updated at: 12/08/2012 6:35 PM
(AP) EAST LANSING, Mich. - Ben Averkamp did all he could for Loyola of Chicago, then challenged his teammates to turn a respectable loss into a meaningful lesson.
Averkamp scored 25 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Ramblers couldn’t hang on in the second half of a 73-61 loss to No. 19 Michigan State, snapping a four-game winning streak.
"Our guys have to learn that we’re right there," Averkamp said. "Moving forward, if we learn from this, it was a good game for us. If not, we really have to look at ourselves."
Freshman Gary Harris shed the protective sleeve on his sprained left shoulder, then scored 14 of his career-high 20 points in the second half for the Spartans. He finished 7 for 11 from the field, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
"He’s a very unselfish kid," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "He took the brace off today, and I’m not sure like that. I might be fist-fighting the doctors today. But he has a chance to be a great player."
Adreian Payne added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State (8-2), his second double-double in the last three games. Travis Trice had 11 points, while Keith Appling, the Spartans’ top scorer this season, had eight points and seven assists, mostly on feeds to Harris.
"If I’m open, I’m going to shoot the ball," Harris said. "I need to come out like that at the beginning instead of having someone get into me."
Part of the reason for that was the play of Averkamp, who burned the defense off high ball screens and was effective down low, grabbing eight rebounds for the Ramblers (6-3). Devon Turk added 10 points.
"We have to learn we can’t just be close," Loyola coach Porter Moser said. "Michigan State has a culture. And we were a step slow getting to Harris and a little uneasy in the second half. We have to compete for 40 minutes."
Michigan State used a 22-9 run, including three 3’s from Harris, to start the second half and build a 52-41 lead. Loyola clawed back within three but saw their last push end with a jumper by Appling and a putback dunk by Payne.
"It was a tough game," Izzo said. "We didn’t play great. We didn’t play bad. We had a couple of rough stretches with really foolish turnovers. But we took a little step in the right direction."
The Spartans shot 49 percent from the field and the Ramblers just 36. But Loyola-Chicago, winners of four straight coming in, held its own on the boards against one of the nation’s top rebounding programs, trailing just 33-31.
The Ramblers overcame a 10-point deficit and took a 28-25 lead on a 3 from Cully Payne, a transfer from Iowa who had played in Breslin Center in 2010. Loyola-Chicago’s advantage reached five and was 32-30 at halftime, after it was 5-for-9 from long range and shot six free throws after fouls on other 3s.
Averkamp and Turk each had eight first-half points for the Ramblers, who were outrebounded and outshot from the field and the line in the first half. Payne had nine points and five rebounds for the Spartans before the break, but starting guards Appling and Denzel Valentine were scoreless.
Michigan State had allowed just 39 and 44 points in the previous two games. It was a different story against an improved opponent that didn’t win its sixth game last season until Feb. 11. But the Spartans regrouped and left with their 70th straight win at home over an unranked non-league opponent.
Next Saturday, both teams will pay tribute to the "Game of Change," a matchup 50 seasons ago that helped to integrate college athletics. The Ramblers will face Mississippi State, the all-white team they beat en route to the 1963 national title. Michigan State will host Tuskegee in Jenison Field House, the scene of one of the sport’s most important games.
"It’s all about tradition," Moser said. "There are a lot of little things that have gone into this 50th anniversary season. One was playing here in East Lansing."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)