NCAA News Wire

Michigan State 80, Harvard 73

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Junior swingman Braden Dawson scored a career-high 26 points Saturday night to lead the Michigan State Spartans past the Harvard Crimson 80-73 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Spartans guard Gary Harris scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help foil Harvard’s comeback attempt.

The fourth-seeded Spartans (28-8) advance to the Sweet 16. Michigan State, the No. 4 seed, plays Friday in the East Regional against the winner of Sunday’s contest between No. 1 seed Virginia (29-6) and No. 8 seed Memphis (24-9).

Harvard, the No. 12 seed, finished 27-5. The Crimson trailed 55-42 midway through the second half before tying the game with a 13-0 run.

The Crimson forged its only lead of the game when guard Laurent Rivard buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to push Harvard ahead 62-60 with 7:10 left in the game. Michigan State guard Travis Trice immediately responded with a 3-pointer of his own, and Harris and guard Denzel Valentine quickly followed with 3’s to give the Spartans a 71-63 lead.

Guard Wesley Saunders led Harvard with 22 points and three steals. Forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who missed his only field-goal attempt during a scoreless first half, keyed Harvard’s comeback and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Spartans shot 49.1 percent from the floor in front of a sold-out crowd of 11,623. The Crimson shot 41.5 percent.

Michigan State forward Adreian Payne, who scored 41 points in Thursday’s win over Delaware, had 12 points. Reserve guard Brandyn Curry scored 12 for Harvard.

Michigan State built leads of 5-0, 9-2 and 18-9 en route to a 45-33 advantage at the half.

Dawson scored 20 points in the half on 9-of-12 shooting from the field.

Saunders, the Ivy League player of the year, led the Crimson with 13 points in the first half.

The Spartans took advantage of their size to outscore the Crimson 24-14 in the paint in the first half. Michigan State shot 54.3 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.

Harvard came into the game averaging just 11.5 turnovers per game, but seven Crimson turnovers in the first half helped the Spartans outscore Harvard 9-0 on turnovers in the half. Michigan State had just one turnover at the half and a 10-0 advantage in fast-break points.

NOTES: Harvard and Michigan State played each other for the first time since 1949. … Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has guided the Spartans into the NCAA Tournament 17 straight years. The only active coach with a longer run is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (19). … Harvard made its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to 2012, Harvard’s only NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1946.