Michigan State outlasts Marquette; Izzo back to Sweet 16
COLUMBUS - Tyson Walker scored 23 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State beat second-seeded Marquette 69-60 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, sending coach Tom Izzo's squad back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in four years.
Joey Hauser — a Marquette transfer — had 14 points and A.J. Hoggard had as 13 Michigan State (21-12) took over in the last three minutes. The Spartans advanced to play third-seeded Kansas State in the East Region semifinals on Thursday at New York's Madison Square Garden.
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It's a familiar situation for Izzo, the 68-year-old Hall of Fame coach who won his 16th March Madness game with a lower-seeded team, the most of any coach. He had shared that record with Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, who retired after this season.
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This one was particularly meaningful. Izzo became the face of a grieving school where three students were killed in a campus shooting on Feb. 13.
"It's been a long year," an emotional Izzo said in a courtside interview. "I'm just happy for our guys."
Olivier-Maxence Prosper led Marquette (29-7) with 16 points and Kam Jones had 14 points, including three 3-pointers.
Michigan State led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Ben Gold and Prosper made back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Golden Eagles close within 33-28 at halftime.
Prosper hit two more 3s in the first minute of the second half to give Marquette its first lead of the day. Michigan State grabbed back the lead with an 8-0 run and didn’t relinquish it.
Back-to-back baskets in the paint by Hoggard and then Walker, both times as the shot clock expired, gave the Spartans a 60-55 lead with 2:20 left. Mady Sissoko then blocked shots on consecutive Marquette possessions, and Walker had a steal followed by a game-sealing dunk with 39 seconds left.
Marquette's nine-game winning streak ended, concluding a season in which the Golden Eagles exceeded expectations under coach Shaka Smart, who has referred to Izzo as a mentor.
Michigan State, meanwhile, finished fourth in the Big Ten but appears to be improving at the right time.
"We’ve still got some dancing to do," Izzo said. "And we’re going to New York. I couldn’t be more excited for Tyson and even A.J., being a Philly guy. After watching the tournament, it doesn’t matter who we play, when we play, where we play, or how, it’s going to be a hell of a game. And I’m looking forward to it."