Derrick Walton Jr. scored 26 points and MI made 16 3-pointers Friday to hold off Oklahoma State 92-91 in the first round of the Midwest Regional. "And then you look at Michigan State and you say, 'Hasn't he been to seven or eight Final Fours?' So I personally didn't feel a ton of comfort or warm feelings by seeing that". And making 3s. An alarming number of 3s in the second half; the difference in a 92-91 final that ousted OSU from the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't know what (Izzo) does the beginning of March that's different than what most mortals do, (but) he gets his team always ready to play", Self said. John Beilein's teams typically abide by a high-volume outside-shooting philosophy, but Friday took things to another level.
Walton, Jr. and D.J. Wilson each sank two pressure-packed free throws during the final 10 seconds, and MI held off a late rally. They have won six straight - five since a frightening plane mishap on the way to last week's Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans built an early 15-4 lead in that game and never looked back. After playing Walton for the entire first half, Beilein quickly made the shift to Xavier Simpson as Derrick Walton limped off the floor with some sort of knee burn or ankle injury.
But rather than change the game plan, Walton followed the script, steadied his team and the shots started going in.
A Walton three-pointer made it 70-64 with 9:10 left, and another gave MI its biggest lead at 76-68 with 6:47 remaining. Langford had 13 points and Bridges tallied 18.
"You go 11 of 15 from the 3, that's hard to do in a gym by yourself".
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First-year Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood expects more from his program, and he hopes the Cowboys will show it when they face MI.
Michigan State continued its longstanding tradition of scheduling top teams to begin this season, one of the reasons it started the season with a 4-4 record.
And on the topic of trends, OSU dropped a fifth straight opening-round NCAA game, although this one played out far differently from the recent one-and-done disasters, with the Cowboys doing so many things right.
Kansas, on the other hand, boasts the one-two-punch of Player of the Year Frank Mason (20.8 points per game) and Josh Jackson (16.4 ppg), not to mention Devonte Graham (13.1 ppg), which makes them as balanced a team as any in the tournament.
The Wolverines made three more in another flurry to take a 76-68 lead with 6:47 to go. They'd have to win four games in four days - a tall order, which is why no team seeded that low has ever done it.
No. 3 OREGON 93, No. 14 IONA 77: In Sacramento, Tyler Dorsey scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures to lead the Ducks (30-5) in the Midwest Regional. Jeff Dowtin scored a career-high 23 points and hit all 10 of his free throws to lead Rhode Island.
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Game one of the NCAA Tournament went according to plan for the Michigan State Spartans as they crushed Miami 78-58.
But by mid-afternoon Friday the NCAA tournament had already given us five teams that had broken 80, and lost. Bridges led the way with nine boards, while Nick Ward and Alvin Ellis III each had seven.
I'd be very surprised to see Michigan State Spartans pulling an upset and advancing past the more experienced and balanced Jayhawks.
TULSA, Okla. - Al Freeman came off the bench to score 21 points, and No. 3 seed Baylor defeated No. 14 seed New Mexico State 91-73 in the first round of the NCAA's East Regional.
There were a plethora of 3-pointers hit, vicious dunks slammed home and key defensive stands.
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