Michigan State basketball beats USC to advance to second round of NCAA Tournament

Michigan State basketball is moving on to the second round.

The Spartans used stifling defense in the second half to pull away from the Trojans, 72-62, in Friday’s NCAA Tournament first round matchup in Columbus, Ohio. With the win, Michigan State will advance to the second round and play the winner of No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 15 seed Vermont on Sunday.

Michigan State led for most of the first half, building an 11-point lead at the 9:09 mark of the opening frame. However, USC would rally and dominate the final nine minutes of the first half, starting with a 15-4 run and eventually regain the lead. Both teams swapped buckets in the final minutes to go into the break tied at 34-34.

Michigan State came out of the locker room with a much better defensive approach in the second half. The Spartans held the Trojans leading scorer Boogie Ellis to only six points, and hit a pair of big three-point shots to build a 15-point lead with five minutes left in the game. It wasn’t a particularly impressive finish, but the Spartans were able to comfortably hold on in the end.

Michigan State was led offensively by Joey Hauser — who scored 17 points. Jaden Akins (12 points), Tyson Walker (12 points) and A.J. Hoggard (11 points) also reached double-digits in scoring for the Spartans.

Michigan State will return to the court on Sunday against either Marquette or Vermont. Game time of that second round matchup has yet to be announced.

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Story originally appeared on Spartans Wire