No. 15 Michigan St. 89, Old Dominion 81
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP)—Tom Izzo leaned back in his chair, his arms spread out, his lips pursed. The usually volatile Michigan State coach didn’t like what he was seeing.
The fifth-seeded Spartans couldn’t pull away until the final minutes, when Shannon Brown made a spinning layup to start a three-point play that helped Michigan State beat Old Dominion 89-81 on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“I was disappointed in the first half, at the energy they brought,” said Izzo, whose team trailed by five at the break and seven early in the second. “I’m not used to teams playing harder than us, and I thought they did.”
Michigan State (23-6) managed to avoid a second consecutive first-round exit and instead gave Izzo, whose NCAA winning percentage is second only to Mike Krzyzewski’s, his 20th tournament win. The Spartans will face 13th-seeded Vermont, which beat Syracuse 60-57 in overtime to advance to the second round of the Austin Regional.
“For Vermont to beat a tough Syracuse team, that says a lot about them,” forward Alan Anderson said.
Old Dominion (28-6) dominated the Colonial Athletic Association, but couldn’t add to the upsets in the Worcester pod. The Monarchs last advanced in the NCAAs when they beat Villanova in triple overtime in the opening round of the 1995 tournament.
“Coming into the game, we knew we all belonged,” Old Dominion guard Kiah Thomas said. “When I first got to ODU, we were always unsure whether we were going to win night in and night out. We really didn’t know. Tonight every man, to a man, believed.”
Brown scored 13 points, and Alan Anderson had 15 to lead five Spartans in double figures. Michigan State shot 57 percent (29-for-51) from the floor in the game, and that was despite making just three of 14 shots from 3-point range.
Alex Loughton had 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for Old Dominion after playing much of the second half in the foul trouble. Drew Williamson, who did not have a turnover in 91 minutes in the CAA tournament, had three on Friday.
Michigan State took a six-point lead, 74-68, before Valdas Vasylius hit a 3-pointer with 4:31 left. Kelvin Torbert made a basket from the lane and Isaiah Hunter answered, then Brown missed from the lane.
Hunter hit a pair of free throws to make it a 76-75 with 3:48 remaining before the teams traded misses. Brown got the ball under the basket, spun around and tossed it in, landing in a crouch and pumping his fists while the official whistled for a foul.
He hit the free throw to make it 79-75 with 2:50 left.
The Spartans extended it to six points again before Loughton’s basket with 1:09 left made it 81-77. Then, with 54 seconds left, Paul Davis made a leaner in the lane at the shot-clock buzzer that was ruled good, giving the Spartans an 83-77 lead.
Michigan State went 6-for-6 from the line down the stretch to clinch it.
“They just played hard and scrappy,” Spartans guard Kelvin Torbert said. “If you play like that, you have a chance in any game. We just had to do the best we could to fight them off.”