Live blog: MSU beats Oklahoma, moves on to Elite 8
Michigan State will try to take one more step toward the Final Four in an East Region semifinal against Oklahoma on Friday at 10:15 p.m. Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Geoff Robinson of The Detroit News.
Spartans overcome slow start, down Oklahoma
Travis Trice knocked down two free throws with 15 seconds remaining and MSU hung on for a 62-58 win over Oklahoma to move on to the Elite 8 Sunday and a match up with Louisville.
MSU didn't start the way that Tom Izzo had envisioned, but they showed their resolve late in beating the Sooners.
Travis Trice scored 24 points and was the most steady player on the floor for the Spartans. Branden Dawson provided some late offense that seemed to spark MSU down the stretch, while also grabbing 11 rebounds.
Neither team was good offensively, but MSU made 5 more 3-pointers than OU and that proved to be the difference.
Buddy Hield got his for Oklahoma, finishing with 21 points, but aside from TaShawn Thomas knocking down some big free throws, the rest of the Sooners didn't do too much.
Down the stretch, Gavin Schilling missed two free throws with the Spartans leading 54-51. Schilling was taken out of the game for Matt Costello, who responded by grabbing a big offensive board that gave Trice the chance he needed when he knocked down a jumper and made it 56-51 in favor of MSU. Oklahoma got two free throws from Thomas to cut the lead to three, but Trice answered with two freebies of his own with 1:19 remaining to push the lead back to five at 58-53. Hield came down the floor and missed a 3-pointer, but a tip by Ryan Spangler gave Hield a second chance, and he knocked it down to make it 58-56 with 1:01 left to play. MSU ran the shot clock all the way down when Trice missed a 3-pointer, but Denzel Valentine got the offensive rebound and was fouled with 25 seconds left. He knocked down both free throws to put the Spartans up by four. Oklahoma got an uncontested bucket to make it 60-58 before Trice sealed the game at the line for MSU.
Trice with another big shot
After Oklahoma shaved the MSU lead to 51-49, Travis Trice hit another 3-pointer to give his team a 54-49 lead. The Sooners got two free throws from TaShawn Thomas and it's 54-51 with 3:43 remaining.
Flurry of buckets gives Spartans late lead
Things are clicking at the right time and MSU leads 51-47 with 5:56 left to play.
Dawson hit another soft jumper in the lane to put MSU up 46-45 after the Spartans fell behind on an OU free throw. TaShawn Thomas gave the Sooners the lead back on a hard drive to the basket when he finished off the glass. Matt Costello got the lead back on a dunk and Denzel Valentine put the Spartans up 51-47 on a 3-pointer in transition.
Spartans take first lead, Sooners tie it back up
Things are getting interesting as MSU and Oklahoma are tied, 44-44, with 7:52 remaining.
Branden Dawson gave the Spartans their first lead of the night at 44-42 on a turnaround jumper in the lane. The senior then came down the floor on defense and pulled off a highlight reel rejection of OU's TaShawn Thomas. The Sooners got two free throws on the same possession after Gavin Schilling was called for a foul.
Tight game may come down to the wire
After Matt Costello missed two free throws in an attempt to give MSU its first lead of the night, Buddy Hield ended his Oklahoma's drought and gave his team a 41-39 lead with 10:57 left to play.
Trice took it to the hole to pull the Spartans within two at 39-37 and after a stop on defense, Denzel Valentine tied things up with a little floater in the lane. MSU is finally starting to get points in the paint and it's paying dividends for them right now.
Trice keeping Spartans alive
OU answered a Travis Trice 3-pointer with an easy dunk and lead MSU 39-35 with 15:30 left to play.
Denzel Valentine hit a corner 3-pointer to pull the Spartans within a point at 33-32, but Buddy Hield answered with a contested jumper.
After two Sooners free throws to start the half, Trice found Gavin Schilling with a beautiful feed going to the rim The Spartans need more buckets like that at the rim.
Spartans hanging tough
Oklahoma got off to a hot start from the field and led by double-digits at two different points, but MSU has been able to knock down a few outside shots to stay close as OU leads 31-27 at the half.
The Spartans have had to rely heavily on outside shooting (4-for-14 from beyond the arc), and while that will keep them within shouting distance as long as a few fall every now and then, they'll have to find a way to penetrate a tough interior Sooners defense.
Travis Trice had 10 points in the first half, but he's going to need more help. Gavin Schilling has six points on some easy baskets, but Branden Dawson (2 points) and Bryn Forbes (3 points) are going to have to find a way to get going.
Buddy Hield has 11 points in the first half for OU, while teammate Jordan Woodard has nine.
Spartans still struggling
After a surge from MSU, Oklahoma has pushed back and leads 31-21 with 3:27 remaining in the first half.
Travis Trice knocked down another 3-pointer and Gavin Schilling threw down a monster dunk as the Spartans pulled within four at 23-19. OU answered with a put-back by Ryan Spangler, but MSU got those two back with a pair of free throws from Trice. Khadeem Lattin added a free throw for the Sooners and Jordan Woodard knocked down a 3-pointer to push the lead back to eight. OU scored again off a broken play and just like that, the lead was back to 10.
Trice has 10 points for MSU.
MSU cold from the outside
Oklahoma has brought the fight to the Spartans and leads 23-14 with 7:57 left to play in the first half.
Denzel Valentine found Gavin Schilling to pull the Spartans within five at 18-13, but after empty possessions by both teams, Jordan Woodard hit a jumper to push the Sooners lead right back to seven at 20-13.
OU is trying to make MSU beat them from the outside. They are collapsing their defense every time the Spartans take the ball into the lane and Branden Dawson is having a hard time finding space down low.
MSU is just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Sooners sprint out to lead
Oklahoma leads 18-11 with 11:49 left to play in the first half and are showing no signs of slowing down.
Travis Trice knocked down a much-need 3-pointer and got the Spartans back to within seven after Oklahoma had built an 18-8 lead.
The Sooners are quicker than MSU right now and that's leading to easy baskets in transition. OU is crashing the boards and has a sizable rebounding advantage (8-2).
Leading scorer Buddy Hield has six early points for Oklahoma in the early going.
Spartans trying to keep pace with OU
Oklahoma is 6-for-8 from the field and leads 13-8 with 15:17 to play in the first half.
The Sooners made their first four shots from the field, but the Spartans haven't been too bad, going 4-for-7 in the early going.
MSU turned the ball over on its opening possession on a lazy pass that led to an easy first bucket for Oklahoma. Branden Dawson got the Spartans on the board with an easy finish after getting good position down low.
Spartans back in Sweet 16
MSU is back in the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in eight years, and for some reason, everyone is a bit surprised.
The Spartans, who are making their 13th trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament under Tom Izzo, are now a force to be reckoned with in a weakened East region. With their win over second-seeded Virginia, coupled with Villanova's round of 32 loss to NC State, a trip to the Final Four is seemingly up for grabs.
Against third-seeded Oklahoma tonight in Syracuse, MSU will need to keep competing at a high level as they go up against another highly-ranked opponent. Free throws need to be made, 50-50 balls need to be chased down, and Izzo will need to keep coaching at a high level.
That last one shouldn't be a problem.
Oklahoma is a good team, and junior guard Buddy Hield can really score the ball. But the Sooners are beatable.
Branden Dawson and Ryan Spangler will battle down low for rebounds and easy buckets, and the winner of that battle could go a long way in deciding who moves on to the Elite 8. Dawson has been known to disappear in big spots in the past, but if the senior shows up again like he did last weekend, he makes the Spartans much more dangerous.
This season as a whole wasn't exactly what MSU fans are accustomed to, but a win tonight puts the program just one step away from another trip to the Final Four. And that is the standard to which this program is measured against under Izzo.