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20 of Tom Izzo's most memorable wins at MSU

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Fullerton, Calif. — Tom Izzo won't ever catch Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in the all-time wins category, but 500, all at one school, is a pretty special milestone, all the same.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

It's a milestone Izzo reached Thursday night, with a 99-68 triumph over Boston College at the Wooden Legacy tournament at Cal State Fullerton.

Before MSU tips off its second game, Friday afternoon against Boise State, here's a look back at 20 of the most memorable victories of Izzo's Hall of Fame career.

* Nov. 20, 1995 — MSU 69, Chaminade 68: This one may not seem like much, but this was the very first win for Izzo, the kickoff to the Maui Invitational and the 1995-96 season, as he took over for Jud Heathcote.

* Dec. 30, 1997 — MSU 74, No. 5 Purdue 57: MSU went on the road and absolutely manhandled the Boilmermakers for Izzo's first win over a top-10 team. Some guy named Mateen Cleaves scored 25 points.

* Jan. 24, 1998 — MSU 71, Penn State 59: Not much to say about this one, other than it moved the Spartans to 13-4 and earned MSU a spot in the Associated Press rankings for the first time in Izzo's tenure.

* Feb. 17, 1998 — No. 14 MSU 80, No. 22 UM 75: Jason Klein led the way with 17 points as Izzo picked up his first victory against MSU's archrival in five tries, including a loss earlier in this season.

* Feb. 21, 1999 — No. 4 MSU 56, No. 13 Wisconsin 51: These teams have had some legendary battles over the years, and this one earned Izzo his first outright Big Ten title. MSU and Wisconsin shared the previous season.

�I love this team,� Izzo says after 500th win at MSU

* March 21, 1999 — No. 2 MSU 73, No. 8 Kentucky 66: When Izzo took over, he vowed to make MSU elite again. It started this year as the Spartans beat the Wildcats to get to their first Final Four since 1979.

* March 25, 2000 — No. 2 MSU 75, No. 8 Iowa State 64: It wasn't all peaches and cream during MSU's championship run. At The Palace, Iowa State was in command, till MSU finished the game on a 20-3 run.

* April 3, 2000 — No. 2 MSU 89, No. 13 Florida 76: Back in the Final Four for a second consecutive year, this time MSU got the job done, winning it all despite an ankle injury to Cleaves, who still scored 18.

* March 28, 2003 — MSU 60, No. 17 Maryland 58: Freshman Paul Davis made two huge baskets late, including a winning layup against two defenders, as the Spartans beat the defending champs and made the Elite Eight.

* March 25, 2005 —  No. 15 MSU 78, No. 3 Duke 68: The Spartans have had their struggles against the Blue Devils in Izzo's run, but this was one of the biggest MSU triumphs, and Izzo's first win over Coach K.

* March 27, 2005 — No. 15 MSU 94, No. 7 Kentucky 88: An absolute classic, as Kentucky's Patrick Sparks made a miracle shot at the buzzer in regulation. MSU eventually won in double-OT to reach the Final Four.

* Feb. 20, 2007 — MSU 64, No. 1 Wisconsin 55: Drew Neitzel scored 28 as Michigan State beat a top-ranked team for the second time in 17 tries — and the first time since the 1979 national-championship game.

* Nov. 28, 2009 -- No. 2 MSU 106, UMass 68: A pretty nondescript nonconference game early in the season, except the win was Izzo's 341st, passing his mentor, Heathcote, for most in MSU history.

* March 29, 2009 — No. 8 MSU 64, No. 1 Louisville 52: Izzo's second win over a top-ranked team was a huge won, as it sent the Spartans to the Final Four, which just so happened to be in Detroit that year.

* April 4, 2009 — No. 8 MSU 82, No. 5 Connecticut 73: Behind a decidedly partial crowd, the Spartans came out energized, especially Kalin Lucas, who scored 21 as MSU advanced to its second title game under Izzo.

* March 1, 2010 — No. 13 MSU 85, No. 20 Maryland 83: Probably the most memorable buzzer beater in recent MSU history, Draymond Green made a neat pass to Korie Lucious, who drained a 3 to send MSU to the Sweet 16.

* Nov. 12, 2013 — No. 2 MSU 78, No. Kentucky 74: Talk about an early season thriller. In just the second game of the season for the Spartans, they knocked off the top dog (or cat), being 22 points from Keith Appling.

* March 28, 2014 — No. 11 MSU 61, No. 3 Virginia 59: The Spartans sent the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers packing from the NCAA Tournament, behind 24 points from Branden Dawson. It sparked an MSU run to the Elite Eight.

* March 29, 2015 — No. 23 MSU 76, No. 13 Louisville 70: MSU trailed by eight at the half, but came storming back behind Trice and Denzel Valentine to win in overtime and give Izzo a seventh Final Four.

* Nov. 11, 2015 — No. 13 MSU 79, No. 4 Kansas 73: MSU usually wins its big games later in the season, but the Spartans picked off one early this sign behind the first of Valentine's two triple-doubles this month.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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