Michigan State earned a spot atop the Associated Press men’s poll by beating then-top-ranked Kentucky last week.
The Spartans will have to play much better to stay No. 1.
Keith Appling matched a career high with 25 points to help Michigan State pull away and beat visiting Portland, 82-67, on Monday night in its first game as a top-ranked team in 13 seasons.
‘‘I think it will be good for us in the end,’’ Izzo said. ‘‘Nobody has to worry about us peaking in November.’’
The Spartans (4-0) struggled in the first half, leading by 4 points after seven lead changes and three ties.
Travis Trice’s 3-pointer broke a tie with 12:26 left and he followed that up seconds later with a steal and layup.
The Pilots (1-2) were led by Kevin Bailey’s 12 points.
The Spartans were sluggish for more than a half, playing hours after being voted No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since they were defending champions during the 2000-01 season. The only other time they were atop the poll was 1978-79, when the Magic Johnson-led team went on to claim the national title.
Duke 91, UNC Asheville 55 — Jabari Parker had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the No. 6 Blue Devils were victorious in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Duke (3-1) held a 42-28 rebounding advantage, built a 20-point first-half lead, and coasted to its 104th straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sam Hughes scored 16 points for the Bulldogs (1-3).
Syracuse 56, St. Francis Brooklyn 50 — Jerami Grant scored 13 points, including a tying follow with 1:43 left, and set up the go-ahead basket by Michael Gbinije in the final minute, as the No. 9 Orange held off the visiting Terriers in an opening-round game of the Maui Invitational.
Syracuse (4-0), making its first appearance in the tournament since winning it in 1998, plays its next game in Hawaii in a week against Minnesota.
The Terriers (2-2) knocked off reigning ACC champion Miami, 66-62, in overtime to open their season. It was the first victory in school history against an ACC team.
Florida 67, Southern 53 — The 16th-ranked Gators coasted past the Jaguars in Gainesville, Fla., but could be without point guard Kasey Hill for a month, maybe longer.
Hill, a freshman point guard averaging 10 points per game, suffered a high ankle sprain.
Florida (3-1) is already point guard Scottie Wilbekin. The senior is suspended indefinitely, but he could return as early as next week.
Providence 70, Vermont 49 — LaDontae Henton and Bryce Cotton scored 18 points apiece and Kadeem Batts added 12 points and 10 rebounds to keep the host Friars undefeated at 4-0.
Luke Apfeld led the Catamounts (1-3) with 14 points, 12 in the second half.
The win was the 30th straight for Providence at home against nonconference opponents — a school mark since the start of the Big East.
Rhode Island 66, Metro State 63 — Xavier Munford scored 16 points and hit three free throws in the final 23 seconds to help the Rams (3-1) hold off the Roadrunners in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Tucson.
Baylor 79, Rice 46 — Odyssey Sims scored 33 points, outscoring Rice much of the game on her own as the ninth-ranked Bears (3-0) extended their nation-best home winning streak to 60 games.
Rice (2-2) didn’t surpass Sims’s final point total until Jessica Kuster’s basket with 6:22 left made it 64-34.
Providence 82, Dartmouth 72 — Tori Rule poured in 32 points to lead the Friars (3-1) in Hanover, N.H. Freshman Fanni Szabo scored 33 for the Big Green (1-3).
Montana 68, Portland 61 — Robin Selvig became the eighth women’s coach to reach 800 wins with the Lady Griz’s victory. Selvig, 61, has been at the school for 36 years and produced 33 winning seasons.