LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—No. 12 Michigan State capped a wild five days in Hawaii with a 74-71 overtime victory over No. 9 Arizona on Wednesday to finish third in the Maui Invitational.
The trip to the 50th state started with a 22-point loss at the University of Hawaii that dropped the Spartans from their No. 4 preseason ranking. It included a 109-106 triple-overtime loss to No. 8 Gonzaga in the Maui semifinals, a game already being considered one of the best regular-season games ever played.
Just 18 hours after leaving the Lahaina Civic Center following the loss to Gonzaga, the Spartans (2-2) looked impressive in building a big lead against Arizona only to see the Wildcats score 16 straight points to take a 60-58 lead. Paul Davis made two free throws with 30 seconds left to tie it and send the Spartans to overtime for the second straight day.
Shannon Brown, who had 19 points, gave the Spartans the lead for good at 70-68 with a jumper with 35 seconds left.
“Four-and-a-half games in five days, we did wear down a little bit,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, taking the blame for the hectic start to the season. “There was stupidity in the scheduling, but we survived it.”
Davis said the Spartans were determined not to let the bad second half against Arizona make the trip home a somber one.
“In the timeouts late we were saying, `We’re not going to lose this game,”’ he said. “I’m proud of our guys and I’m going to enjoy this.”
In keeping with the theme of the trip, the last game had to have a crazy ending.
After Arizona freshman Marcus Williams missed two free throws with 8.5 seconds left, making him 0-for-7 from the line for his young career, Davis hit two more free throws with 5.8 seconds left.
Arizona Chris Rodgers hit a 3-pointer with a second left and immediately called a timeout. The Wildcats didn’t have one left so a technical foul was charged and Maurice Ager made two free throws for the final margin.
Williams said he had been in a situation like before in high school.
“I know I struggled in the tournament but I stepped to line with confidence,” he said. “My coach and teammates told me they know I’ll make them when I get the chance again. It’s something everyone has to deal with in their career and I have to now.”
Ager, who had a career-high 36 points in the loss to Gonzaga, scored 20 points against Arizona, and Davis finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. The Spartans finished with a 43-23 advantage on the boards, including 27-6 in the first half when they took a 37-23 lead.
“We just got absolutely hammered on the boards but Michigan State does that to a lot of people,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said. “I want to acknowledge the courage and the heart of that team following what I thought was the best preseason game I’ve ever seen to go to another overtime and be able to sustain that effort.”
Hassan Adams had 21 points, nine rebounds and six steals for the Wildcats, while Rodgers had 20 points and Mustafa Shakur added 10, six in the overtime.
Brown hit a jumper with 5:43 left to give Michigan State a 58-44 lead and those were the Spartans’ last points until Davis’ free throws with 30 seconds to play.
Williams had six of his eight points in Arizona’s 16-0 run that was fueled by seven Michigan State turnovers. Adams, who had a thunderous rebound dunk in the run, gave Arizona its first lead since 15-13 when he scored on a drive with 56 seconds left to make it 60-58.
“In the second half we did a good job defensively and made it difficult for them to get looks at the basket,” Olson said. “Marcus’ size and length bothered their point guard.”
The Spartans admitted they were tired.
“To be honest, I kind of got tired a little bit,” Ager said. “But that’s no excuse for careless ballhandling and turnovers.”
Brown said he had “nothing left in me. Fortunately we came out with the win.”
Izzo said he learned a lot about his team from the trip.
“They’re tougher than I am,” he said. “It says a lot about their character.”
This was Michigan State’s third appearance on Maui with the Spartans winning the eight-team tournament in 1991 and finishing fourth in 1995.
The Wildcats reached the championship game in their other three appearances here, winning it all in 2000 and finishing second in 1993 and 1997.