GREENVILLE, S.C. – Michigan State basketball rode a late surge Friday to knock off No. 10 seed Davidson 74-73 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams represented two old-school heavyweight boxers as they withstood each other’s haymakers from the tip, but the No. 7 seeded Spartans proved to be more suitable in the waning moments.
Forward Joey Hauser led all scorers with 27 points in the victory. His performance left Izzo very proud of him.
“I’m so proud of him,” Tom Izzo said. “It’s been a long run for him, and the best comes at the end, I guess. I’m really happy for him, and he made some big plays, especially his defense.”
Coach Izzo spoke glowingly about Hauser’s play on both ends of the floor. Hauser said he set his career-high in points thanks to his mismatch on both ends.
“It’s a new season,’ said Hauser. “I think that’s the beauty of this as I just felt good. It was a fresh start for us. We had a good Big Ten run, and I was feeling good. With the matchup, we didn’t do anything differently. I just made my shots, really.”
Michigan State held a slim 32-31 lead at the half, but coach Izzo wasn’t happy with the defensive effort.
“I thought we did a poor job defending their small lineup,” Izzo said. “When they went small they drove our bigs out a little bit. We didn’t do a very good job, I did not do a very good job as we should have maybe substituted a little bit. I thought we had some decent shots as we were driving it a little bit too much and not coming down on two feet. They’re pretty good at rallying to the ball and we got to change that.”
The Spartans haven’t lost when they’ve led at halftime, though, and that remained the case despite the slim one-point margin.
With about five minutes remaining, Davidson built a 51-46 lead, but Michigan State stormed back with a 10-0 run to take over for good.
The Spartans will play No. 2 seed Duke on Sunday.
This will coach Izzo’s and coach K’s 16th time matching up against one another, with MSU winning three times of the 15.
“Mike’s done so much, and it’s going to be a privilege to be in the game,” Izzo said. “I think it’s going to be great for the fans, CBS, and I hope we play greater than we had most of those times.