CHICAGO, IL (97.1 The Ticket/AP) – The Spartans trailed for most of the game but Michigan State rallied in the final minutes to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 59-56 in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday night.
“We didn’t play well but found a way to win,” said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Michigan State (25-7) fell behind early and couldn’t get momentum during the first 30 minutes of play.
Adreian Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a rugged victory over Iowa.
Keith Appling and Gary Harris had 13 points apiece for the Spartans, who trailed by 12 midway through the second half. They advance to play Ohio State in the next round in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship, won by Michigan State.
Iowa (21-12) was oh so close to an upset victory that could have cemented a spot in the field for next week’s NCAA tournament. Instead, the Hawkeyes will have to sweat out a nervous Selection Sunday.
The Hawkeyes got at least one basket from 11 players, but none of them scored in double figures. Mike Gesell led the way with nine points, and Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe each had eight.
Harris made a go-ahead 3-pointer for the Spartans with 4:10 left, part of a 22-2 run that gave Michigan State the lead for the first time in the game. Harris also had a big dunk in the spurt, and Appling contributed six points to the surge.
Derrick Nix converted a three-point play and Payne made a layup to stake Michigan State to a 57-49 lead with 1:54 remaining.
The Hawkeyes made one last charge, pulling within one on Basabe’s rebound basket with 1:04 to go. But Harris made two foul shots on the other end, Basabe and Marble each missed for Iowa, and the Spartans ran out the clock.
Iowa shot 45.5 percent from the field, compared to 38.6 percent for Michigan State, but the Hawkeyes committed 19 turnovers were outscored 32-22 in the paint.
Appling drew a roar from the raucous crowd when he finished a drive down the middle with a terrific right-handed dunk over Basabe with 16:59 left, trimming Iowa’s lead to 35-28 and sending the Michigan State sideline into a tizzy.
But Marble responded with a 3-pointer, and Iowa increased the lead to 45-33 on a 3 by Zach McCabe with 12:15 to go. McCabe held three fingers up on each hand, then pointed to his head as he ran down the court after the big shot.
It was another heartbreaking loss for the Hawkeyes against the Spartans, who won 62-59 at Iowa on Jan. 10. The game was tied at 56 with 1:04 left, but Appling made four free throws down the stretch to lead the Spartans to the victory.
Iowa opened the rematch with a 9-2 run and limited Michigan State to just eight field goals during an impressive first half. Aaron White and Anthony Clemmons each hit a jumper down the stretch to help the Hawkeyes to a 30-20 lead at intermission.
Michigan State shot 26.7 percent (8 for 30) in the first half, missing each of its eight tries from 3-point range. The Spartans had four assists and seven turnovers at the break.
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