COLUMBUS, Ohio (Michigan News Source) – A late second half run propelled Michigan State University to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as they held off Southern California, 72-62. Four players scored in double figures as Joey Hauser led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jaden Akins and Tyson Walker added 12 points and A.J. Hoggard had 11 points.
“We got our mojo back,” said head coach Tom Izzo. “We talked about it two or three weeks. But no secret that I haven’t been pleased with our defense and I’d say 32 or 33 minutes I thought it was exceptional.”
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With 11:16 left in the game, USC pulled within four, 53-49, but MSU went on a 13-2 run over seven minutes for a 15-point lead. Back-to-back three-pointers by Hauser and Akins put MSU up by 15-points at the 4:25 mark. USC cut the lead to nine, twice, in the final four minutes but came no closer.
MSU shot 48 percent overall but only shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the line. USC made just 41 percent of their shots making seven three-pointers for 35 percent. USC also out rebounded MSU, 36-34.
The two were tied at 34 at halftime. MSU took a five-point lead, 11-6, in the first five minutes of the game on an Akins jumper. Walter then made it an eight-point lead, 17-9, at 11:18 and Mady Sissoko pushed it to 11-points at 9:08 on a dunk, 24-13. USC responded on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 28 with 2:23 to go and were down one, 32-31, with 19 second left when they hit a three-pointer for a two-point lead, 34-32. Hoggard hit a shot with one second left to tie the game at the half.
Overall, MSU defense forced 11 turnovers to score 16 points.
With the win, Izzo is now 19-5 all-time in the round of 64 and now has 22 20-win seasons at MSU.
MSU will face the winner of the Marquette/Vermont game on Sunday.
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