EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State's Delvon Roe took full advantage of a late-night start against South Carolina.
Roe scored 15 points, had a career-high six assists and grabbed five rebounds -- after performing in a play -- to help the second-ranked Spartans hold off the Gamecocks, 82-73 Tuesday night.
The 10 p.m. EST tipoff allowed Roe, a theatre major, to have a unique night. He played Charles the wrestler in Shakespeare's "As You Like It" in an on-campus performance that started about 2˝ hours before the game.
"My nerves were 20 times worse out there than they've ever been around here," Roe said.
Then, Roe put on a show in the opening minutes on the court.
He had a block, an offensive rebound and a backdoor pass early in the game. He had 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and a block by halftime, playing one of his best stretches in three seasons after being slowed by surgeries on both knees.
"It was definitely his best half," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "You can see where he's more explosive."
Roe finished well, too, coming up one point short of his career high and surpassing his personal best in assists.
"He's a good player, who did some good things," South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said. "But the strength of their team is their team. I don't know that they have one stand out guy."
The Spartans (2-0) led 42-25 at halftime, but had the lead cut to single digits early in the second half and couldn't pull away because they made too many turnovers, missed a ton of free throws and gave up a lot of 3-pointers.
Freshman Bruce Ellington made a shot from beyond the arc that pulled the Gamecocks (1-1) within six points with 2:13 left to play, but they couldn't get closer.
Ellington finished with 22 points and teammate Sam Muldrow was held to five points and was stunted defensively because of foul trouble.
Michigan State made 19 turnovers -- 14 after halftime -- missed half of its 34 free throws and allowed 11 3-pointers.
The Spartans, who were uncharacteristically outrebounded, will have to play much better to have success next week at the Maui Invitational, where they might play No. 12 Kentucky, and in December at top-ranked Duke and against No. 10 Syracuse in Madison Square Garden.
The Spartans had a scare midway through the second half when star guard Kalin Lucas, coming off surgery on his left Achilles' tendon, gingerly walked off the court after flexing his left foot and ankle.
Lucas didn't stay on the bench long, drawing cheers when he checked back in the game. He had five points -- 13 fewer than he scored in the opener -- and had seven assists without a turnover.
"Kalin hurt his ankle, it wasn't his Achilles," Izzo said. "Anytime he hurts anything down there he's going to have some apprehension."
The Spartans won their 49th straight game against a nonconference opponent, dating to a setback versus Duke in 2003, and improved to 40-0 at home in November under Izzo.
"We knew coming into the game the challenge was not just the players versus the players, but 16 years of building a program in this environment, which is tremendous," Horn said. "This is what we want our program to look like, hopefully 12 or 16 years from now, committing to a style of play and recruiting our area well and having kids graduating."
South Carolina's top player, Muldrow, went to the bench with two fouls at the 14:01 mark of the first half and the Spartans took advantage by turning a tie game into an 18-11 lead.
The Gamecocks, though, showed for the first of many times that they weren't overmatched with a run that gave them a 21-19 lead midway through the first half.
Michigan State responded with 14 unanswered points, capped by Roe's reverse layup, and closed the half by outscoring South Carolina 23-4 to take a 17-point lead.
"It was a learning experience for our team," Horn said. "I don't know that we'll play a better team in a better environment, so we'll grow from this."