Quick hit: Spartans stood strong at the end

The Spartans had lots of chances to fold but never did. They came out sluggish and fell behind quickly, ending the first half trailing, 30-20. Wait, it got worse. With 10:55 left in the game, Iowa had pushed its lead to 12 points, 45-33. That’s when the Spartans went to work, chipping away and refusing to buckle.

Then, finally, at the 4:11 mark, Gary Harris hit a 3-pointer to put MSU up, 50-49. The Spartans never trailed again, outscoring Iowa 22-11 over those final fateful 10:55. The loss ends any hopes Iowa had of earning an NCAA at-large bid. Instead, it’s likely off to the NIT—again.

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Key moment: Clinging to a 57-56 lead with 30 seconds left, Gary Harris was fouled. The Big Ten freshman of the year proceeded to swish both free throws. And then, MSU played tight defense to finish out the comeback.

Key player: Adreian Payne led MSU with 18 points and 10 rebounds. But let’s go with Keith Appling. He seemingly willed the Spartans to victory, coming alive in the second half after scoring just two points in the first half. Appling finished with 13 points and two thunderous dunks that embodied his determination. He was all over the floor.

Key number: 32, Michigan State’s points in the paint. The Spartans used their big men to control the middle. But when Payne, Derrick Nix or Branden Dawson weren’t scoring, the Spartans were getting to the rim on drives by Appling or Harris. MSU also won the battle of the glass, 34-27.

What’s next: Michigan State will play Ohio State on Saturday for a chance to play in the title game. The teams split their two games this season, with each winning on their home court. MSU won in East Lansing, 59-56; the Buckeyes won in Columbus, 68-60.

Keith Appling joins the BTN set:

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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10 Comments

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Doug on 3/15/2013 @ 11:26pm EDT Said:

MSU was actually down 13 at one time…

Ren on 3/16/2013 @ 12:11am EDT Said:

I’ve seen Teddy V call bad games, but… WOW!

Scott on 3/16/2013 @ 12:22am EDT Said:

question for Doug: you keep mentioning that the officials helped Iowa build a 13 point lead, got a few examples? AND, are you saying its fair for the officials to completely ignore obvious foul calls (Marble getting fouled on that 3-point shot and the White ‘clean’ block). Those were probably the most obvious calls in the game and were game changing calls.

Jefferson on 3/16/2013 @ 9:55am EDT Said:

The referees really seemed to favor MSU. Marble was knocked to the floor when attempting a 3 pointer and nothing was called. How could the ref not call it??

teresa on 3/16/2013 @ 11:07am EDT Said:

Iowa got ripped off.

dave schank on 3/16/2013 @ 12:06pm EDT Said:

as iowa fans we should not wine and complain like iowa state fans did after the kansas loss in ames. take it in stride and look towards the next game

Doug on 3/16/2013 @ 12:17pm EDT Said:

Question for Scott: Iowa was up 13 points and turned it over 19 times, yet all you Iowa fans want to blame the refs instead of your own team, your coach was outcoached too, he just seemed to quit running plays instead of trying to maintain the lead, Ted Valentine has been against MSU ever since he became an official, you guys are beginning to sound like Michigan fans. Just admit Iowa blew a big lead and quit blaming the refs. I’m sure they missed calls, they always do, but to blame them for the outcome is just silly.

Doug on 3/16/2013 @ 4:03pm EDT Said:

nice post dave, you are exactly right.

Jefferson on 3/16/2013 @ 7:52pm EDT Said:

Scott is right with his thoughts.

Dan on 3/17/2013 @ 4:04pm EDT Said:

That game was a total joke. It was street ball in the second half. This is the reson why Jim delany needs to be fired. He doesnt care about the league.