INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In an offensive slugfest Friday (March 17), the No. 23-ranked University of MI men’s basketball team held off Oklahoma State, 92-91, in an NCAA Tournament first-round game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Seventh-seeded MI needed every point it could muster in a game that ended with a parade to the free-throw line, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a foe that refused to go away. Also in double-figures for the Spartans are Nick Ward (13.7 PPG: 6.5 RPG) and Eron Harris (10.4 PPG).
Walton became the first player to score at least 25 points, log at least 10 assists and five rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game since Dwyane Wade did so in 2003.
But the Spartans will see a veteran team in the Jayhawks.
The Spartans’ resurgence continued with the play of Ward. “When we feed off of each other, we’re hard to beat”.
Miami entered the tourney with the 264 ranked offense and averaged just 69.4 points per game during the regular season.
MI led 41-40 following a fast-paced first half.
Michigan State will move on to face the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the second round on Sunday. Previously, Larranaga guided the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 in 2013 and 2016.
And in the first 10 minutes of Friday’s matchup with No. 8 Miami in the Midwest Region at the BOK Center, it looked like all of Izzo’s fears were coming true.
We’ll have more breakdowns later today.
Jackson, a 6-foot-8 junior, finished 8-of-13 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range with seven rebounds.
MI shot 56.6% from the field, though just 30% from downtown on 6-of-20 shooting, and out rebounded the Hurricanes 36-23 in a lopsided affair that was over early in the second half.
Helped by 56.6 percent shooting, the Spartans led by 20 at the midpoint of the second half and never wavered, punctuating the victory with back-to-back dunks in the closing minutes.
One thing that will give Self some reassurance and Izzo some concern as they prepare for Sunday’s game is the experience factor.
“It’s the mindset and the trust these guys have in me”, Walton said. With 14:56 left in the second half, MSU was in control, 49-32. The Spartans came into the tournament having lost three of their final four games, but were able to put up a convincing win against Miami in the first round.
Louisville advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after a brief test from Jacksonville State. Jim Dahl offers each team’s NCAA Tournament chances based on its performance in its respective conference tournaments.
– Miami was making its third NCAA Tournament appearance during coach Jim Larranaga’s six seasons at the school.