The Spartans were too big, too athletic, too strong and just plain too good for the Crusaders in this second-round game. In fact, the final score is deceiving. This game wasn’t that close. Michigan State played one of its most complete games of the season, being especially dominating on the glass as it aims for a seventh Final Four appearance under Tom Izzo.
Key moment: With 11:10 left in the first half, this was an 8-8 game. From that point, MSU outscored Valpo 27-10 the rest of the half to take a 35-18 edge at intermission. From that point, the game basically was over, with MSU building the lead to as many as 20 points in the second half.-The Spartans shot well, hitting 45 percent overall and 40 percent from 3-point range. That negated the 17 turnovers committed by Michigan State.
Key stat: 49, rebounds for Michigan State. The Crusaders had just 26. And the Spartans were especially dominant on the offensive glass, grabbing 20 boards. That led to numerous second-chance points for Michigan State, which also had Keith Appling (15 points) and Gary Harris (10) in double-figures.
Key player: Derrick Nix was a man among boys, hitting 10-of-16 shots for 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Valpo had no one who could match up with the 270-pound senior who ran the floor and dominated in the paint.
Next: Michigan State will play the winner of the game between No. 6 Memphis and No. 11 St. Mary’s, which beat Middle Tennessee in a play-in game.
|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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