The Spartans (5-2) shot 52.5% (31 for 59) from the field, and each of their starters scored in double figures. Pierre Brooks made each of his four 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points. Joey Hauser had 14 points and seven rebounds, and A.J. Hoggard added 12 points and nine assists.
After outscoring Michigan State 13-2 in the last three minutes and getting eight points in less than 30 seconds to make it 78-77 with 40.5 seconds to play, Portland rebounded a Spartans miss with 8.1 seconds to go. The Pilots got the ball inside to Tyler Robertson and his shot rolled off the rim, and a desperation putback by Juan Sebastian Gorosito wasn't close.
Robertson had 16 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals for the Pilots (5-4). Alden Applewhite was 5-of-7 shooting and had a career-high 16 points. Kristian Sjolund made 5 of 6 3-pointers for 15 points.
The Spartans used a 10-0 run early in the second half to erase an eight-point halftime deficit.
After Robertson made two free throws with 1:10 to play to pull Portland to 78-71, the Spartans threw the ball away and Sjolund hit a 3 from the right wing. Robertson then stole the inbounds pass and Moses Wood found Sjolund in the right corner 10 seconds later.
The Pilots were 13 of 29 from 3-point range and 12 of 12 from the foul line while only committing five turnovers.
Portland knocked down nine 3-pointers - Sjolund was 3 for 3 - in the first half and led 42-34 at the break. Michigan State grabbed a 49-46 lead on three foul shots for Mady Sissoko and Hoggard's layup.
Sissoko finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
Portland: Despite missing starting point guard Mike Meadows (groin), the Pilots were impressive and less than cordial as co-hosts of the tournament. They lost to No. 1 North Carolina 89-81 and beat Villanova 83-71 before giving Michigan State all it could handle. It bodes well for Year 2 of the Shante Legans rebuild as the Pilots were 1-42 in West Coast Conference play in the three years before his arrival.
Michigan State: Despite the close score, the Spartans still pulled it out. The Spartans appear ready for the rest of their difficult schedule after beating Oregon and losing to 18th-ranked Alabama. Starting forward Malik Hall and key reserve Jaden Akins missed the tournament with injuries.
Portland gets a much needed breather on Wednesday, facing NAIA Multnomah.
Michigan State goes to Notre Dame for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.
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