Connect with us
Home » news » Michigan State Gets Wisconsin And Thats Final

NCAA News Wire

Michigan State gets Wisconsin, and that’s final

Updated

on

CHICAGO — When more blue-collar basketball players are needed, Michigan State will provide them.

Trailing third-seeded Maryland, 15-4, early in their Big Ten tournament semifinal, the second-seeded Spartans rallied to score a 62-58 victory on Saturday and advanced to the title game for the fifth time.

Their opponent: Wisconsin, another school with a junkyard-dog defensive mentality. And that’s just fine with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

“We’ve been in some epic wars,” Izzo said.

The only one this season was less than that, a 68-61 win by the Badgers on senior night in Madison.

“We were there, but I’m not sure we played them,” Izzo said. “Some of that was on me.”

The Spartans (23-10) were hardly playing for the first six minutes against the Terrapins (27-6). Maryland guard Melo Trimble hit three 3-pointers and led the Terrapins to an 11-point advantage for openers.

Then Michigan State began to play defense, but it was a long climb back to secure their biggest comeback victory of the season.

“Coach told me to pick it up,” guard Branden Dawson said of Izzo’s halftime persuasion. “He kept coming at me.”

Dawson, who scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, keyed the rally, but didn’t score during the 15-point run that finally brought the Spartans their first lead of the game.

Guard Denzel Valentine’s only basket of the game, a 3-pointer with 12:34 remaining, pushed the Spartans ahead.

It was back and forth from that point until Michigan State forward Gavin Schilling broke a 48-48 tie on a free throw with 4:20 left. On the next possession, he jammed home a pass from Valentine for a 51-48 lead.

Following a basket by Maryland forward Dez Wells, the Spartans scored the next six points, Valentine collecting the last of his game-high seven assists on Dawson’s rousing dunk.

The Spartans led by seven after a free-throw by guard Lourawls Nairn Jr., and were not threatened again.

“I always want to be the one that got us the lead,” Valentine said of his only basket.

The perseverance on offense and shutting down Trimble, who led the Terrapins with 22 points, were major factors in the comeback. Maryland had beaten Michigan State twice in the regular season, but the Spartans are a different team in March.

“We kept talking about shrinking the court and making Melo see six eyes instead of two,” Izzo said.

The swarming defense worked.

And when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon countered by sending forward Evan Smotrycz out from the basket to give him help on offense, that changed the Terrapins’ defensive scheme. The Spartans pounced.

Guard Travis Trice led Michigan State with 20 points.

“They got second-chance points and layups in the second half,” Turgeon said.

Said guard Richaud Pack of Maryland: “Usually we make shots down the stretch. We had some shots and just didn’t knock them down.”

Maryland took eight shots before Smotrycz scored to stop the run.

“If we could have just made a couple shots in that stretch, had a couple really good possessions, got to the foul line, we could have stemmed the tide a little bit,” Turgeon said.

Instead, none of the above happened, and Maryland’s coaches and players will spend Sunday afternoon wondering where they will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament, rather than playing the Badgers (30-3) with a possible No. 1 seed on the line.

NOTES: Michigan State guard Travis Trice has 1,016 points after his 20-point showing. … Maryland swingman Dez Wells scored 10 points to extend his double-figure point scoring streak to 13 games. He had averaged 18.1 points in the first dozen games. He and Melo Trimble were the only Terrapins in double figures. … Maryland committed 13 turnovers, an improvement compared to the season-high 21 the Spartans forced them into in one of the regular-season games. … Michigan State can break its conference tournament championship tie with Ohio State by beating Wisconsin on Sunday. Each school has won four titles. … Maryland was chasing its fourth conference title. The Terrapins won three in the Atlantic Coast Conference, most recently in 2004.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

Trending Now