Michigan State survives late Georgia run, advances to Round of 32
Death. Taxes. Tom Izzo winning in March.
This may not be one of Izzo’s best Spartans team, but no one has ever gotten rich by doubting him in the NCAA tournament. No. 7 Michigan State showed why with its 70-63 win over No. 10 Georgia in a Round of 64 matchup in the East region.
The Spartans used a huge spurt in each half to keep the Bulldogs at bay. After falling behind 11-5 in the opening minutes, Michigan State closed the first half on a 30-11 run, taking a 12-point lead into the locker room. Georgia got off to a hot start in the second half, cutting the deficit to two points. The Spartans then went on a 13-4 run to push the lead to 52-41. The Bulldogs were able to make things interesting in the final minute of the game, cutting it to three points on a Kenny Gaines three-point play with 20 seconds left, but Denzel Valentine hit all six of his free throws in the last 30 seconds to close it out.
Valentine led the Spartans with 16 points and six assists, while Travis Trice led the Spartans with 15 and six dimes of his own. Reserve guard Bryn Forbes knocked down three of his six attempts from behind the arc and finished with 14 points, and Branden Dawson poured in 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Michigan State’s offense was clicking, getting 18 assists on its 26 field goals.
After getting out to a hot start behind Gaines, the Bulldogs struggled shooting from the field. Ultimately, they shot just 33.3% from the floor, including 4-for-14 from distance. Junior Charles Mann led the team with 19 points, while Gaines had and Marcus Thornton finished with 12 and nine rebounds
Michigan State advances to the Round of 32, where it will take on No. 2 Virginia or No. 15 Belmont. Virginia and Michigan State met in the Sweet 16 last year, with Izzo’s Spartans pulling an upset on the then-top-seeded Cavaliers. Should they meet again this year, the Spartans would likely face even longer odds than they did a season ago. Remember, though, death, taxes, Tom Izzo in March.