COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 7 seed Michigan State cruised past No. 10 seed USC on Friday in Columbus to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans were led by four starters who scored in double figures: Joey Hauser, Jaden Akins, A.J. Hoggard, and Tyson Walker.
After jumping out to an early 24-13 lead, Tom Izzo’s team went cold heading into halftime, allowing USC to close on a 21-10 run and hit the locker room all tied up. The two teams traded blows for the first few minutes of the second half before MSU used a pair of Carson Cooper buckets to go up nine.
USC got back within four points, but a 7-0 Michigan State run gave them a 60-49 lead. The Trojans ended the run with a Joshua Morgan tip-in, but the Spartans answered with three-pointers from Hauser and Akins to go up 15 at the under-four timeout.
Despite missing the front end of one-and-one attempts on three straight trips, Michigan State held on thanks to a defense that forced tough shots possession after possession. When the clock hit zeroes, MSU had secured a 72-62 win.
The Spartans will play the winner of No. 15 Vermont and No. 2 Marquette on Sunday in Columbus.