Paschal Chukwu stepped to the line with 2.4 seconds remaining and Syracuse leading by one. He hit one of two, giving MSU a chance to win the game. But Cassius Winston's half-court heave at the buzzer was too strong and the Orange escaped with a 55-53 win that sends them through to the Sweet 16.
It was an epic collapse by the Spartans, who missed their final 14 field goal attempts and shot 26 percent for the game.
The foul game: Syracuse had the ball with nine seconds remaining, but a swarming MSU defense got the Spartans one last chance by forcing the Orange to lose the ball out of bounds with 7.9 seconds left to play. Syracuse elected to foul Matt McQuaid, sending him to the line for a 1-and-1 with 7.0 seconds remaining. McQuaid hit both, and MSU was forced to send Tyus Battle to the line at 6.1 seconds. Battle hit both, and Jim Boeheim elected to foul Winston with 3.7 on the clock. Winston (15 points, 6 assists) hit both, leaving Syracuse with a 54-53 lead.
Prior to the final 10 seconds: Josh Langford missed an open 3-pointer from the wing with just over a minute remaining. Leading by a point, Syracuse's Tyus Battle hit a step-back jumper that put the Orange up 52-49 with 44 seconds remaining. On the ensuring possession, Miles Bridges missed from beyond the arc before Josh Langford missed a clean-up on the offensive boards. The Spartans got second life with a scramble for the ball on the floor being called a jump ball and giving them possession with 25 seconds left to play. Bridges (11 points, 4-for-18 from the field) missed another 3-pointer, and another jump ball gave it back to Syracuse before they turned it over.
MSU dominated the boards, grabbing 29 offensive rebounds and outrebounding the Orange by a total of 51-30. But when you shoot just 26 percent from the field, it doesn't really matter how many looks you get at the basket.
It was a wild swing when Syracuse's leading scorer for the day, Frank Howard, fouled out with just over six minutes remaining and his team trailing. Somehow, the Orange rallied with a 7-0 run to take a two-point lead.
Battle led the Orange with 17 points.
Orange bounce back after leading scorer fouls out
Syracuse's Frank Howard (13 points) committed two consecutive fouls to see himself sent off for the day with five personal infractions and just over six minutes remaining.
However, the Orange have bounced back to take the lead, 49-48, with 4:23 remaining.
After the Orange split a pair at the line, Cassius Winston hit a floater with the shot clock winding down to push the MSU lead to five. Tyus Battle answered with a drive to the basket that ended with him knocking down two from the charity stripe. After an empty Spartans possession, Oshea Brissett knocked one down in the lane. MSU couldn't respond despite an extra possession on a Miles Bridges rebound, and Marek Dolezaj hit two from the line to give Syracuse the lead.
Tillman stepping up
The grind is officially on. The whistles have picked up as MSU and Syracuse continue to play a physical style of basketball that, unfortunately, doesn't include much offense.
With 8:04 remaining, the Spartans lead 42-39.
Xavier Tillman (four points, 12 rebounds) is seeing a lot of minutes off the bench, as Tom Izzo is very upset with Nick Ward's performance around the rim.
Spartans' struggles return
Miles Bridges banked in a 3-pointer to push the MSU lead to six, but Syracuse continues to hang around. At the 11:53 mark of the second half, the Spartans lead 38-37.
After Bridges' long ball, MSU went cold again and also struggled with turnovers. After starting the half 4-for-7 from the field, the Spartans have followed that up with a 1-for-7 stretch.
On the other end, Syracuse is attacking the basket and creating chances in the paint.. This has the feel of a game that's going to go down to the wire.
MSU off to a good start in 2nd half
Cassius Winston picked up where he left off in the first half by starting the second half with a 3-pointer from the wing. Oshae Brissett was able to draw a foul on Miles Bridges in the act of shooting from behind the arc, and he proceeded to knock down all three from the charity stripe. Nick Ward continued the MSU domination on the glass with an offensive rebound for a bucket to stretch the lead to five. After a Cuse bucket, Bridges knocked down a 3-pointer of his own.
At the 15:46 mark, MSU leads 35-31. They've started the half 4-for-7 from the floor.
Spartans hold a slim lead after ugly 1st half
It wasn't pretty, and it probably won't be when these teams come out for the second half, but at least it's interesting.
At the half, the Spartans are up 25-22 thanks to an amazing 3-pointer from Matt McQuaid, who had his shot blocked at the 3-point line, caught the ball in mid-air and threw it back up and banked it in at the buzzer.
MSU started 3-for-17 from the floor against the Orange's vaunted zone defense, but Cassius Winston (six points) knocked down a pair from beyond the arc to sorta, kinda get the Spartans going. MSU finished the half shooting just 28 percent from the field.
The big advantage for Tom Izzo's squad was on the boards, where they grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Orange in total, 24-12. Those extra opportunities are really what made the difference, otherwise this ugly low score would be much, much uglier.
Count Miles Bridges as one of the struggling Spartans. The sophomore finished 1-for-7 from the field with just three points.
Conversely, the Orange shot just 40 percent from the field, getting nine points from Frank Howard.
Winston shoots MSU out in front
Cassius Winston hit his second 3-pointer and that feels like a huge burst of momentum in this game, as neither team has established anything resembling a real offense yet. Winston and Nick Ward have six points each for MSU, who leads Syracuse 17-15 with 3:58 remaining in the first half.
Syracuse has MSU playing its ugly brand of basketball
Cassius Winston knocked down a 3-pointer after a pair of offensive rebounds gave the Spartans an extended possession. That was something Tom Izzo's squad desperately needed, but it hasn't led to any sustained success. MSU is just 3-for-16 from the field.
The Orange lead, 14-12, with 7:39 remaining in the first half, and they've definitely got MSU playing the type of ugly game Jim Boeheim loves.
Spartans struggling with the zone
MSU is having some issues with Syracuse's zone, settling for long 3-pointers instead of getting into the lane and attacking.
The Spartans have started 2-for-10 from the field, and Syracuse turned that into an 8-0 run to grab a 10-7 lead with 11:46 remaining in the first half.
MSU out to an early lead
Nick Ward knocked down two free throws and Josh Langford hit from beyond the arc to stake the Spartans a 5-0 lead. Oshae Brissett got the Orange off the snide with a bucket, but it's still 7-4 in favor of the Tom Izzo's squad with 15:58 remaining in the first half.
Syracuse is not known for it's offense, but they are a long and lanky team that can really play zone defense. If MSU can shoot decently from the outside, they should be able to move on to the Sweet 16.
Michigan State vs. Syracuse
Tip-off: 2:40 p.m. Sunday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV/radio: CBS/760 AM
Records: No. 3 seed Michigan State 30-4; No. 11 seed Syracuse 22-13
Next up: Winner advances to Sweet 16 in Omaha, Neb.