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Michigan State basketball falls in Sweet 16 to Kansas State, 98-93, in overtime

NEW YORK — Michigan State basketball and Kansas State traded punches like a title fight. Provided theatrics worthy of a play on Broadway. Every cliché imaginable for a big game in the big city on the big stage at Madison Square Garden.

With homegrown players delivering at every turn for the Spartans and Wildcats in an NCAA tournament slugfest.

Until Markquis Nowell and Ismael Massoud ended Tyson Walker and MSU’s season.

The two Harlem kids combined for 35 points, with Massoud hitting a critical jumper late in the shot clock in overtime to give the third-seeded Wildcats a 98-93 victory over the seventh-seeded Spartans on Thursday night.

MSU finishes its season 21-13.

"Been part of a lot of big wins, and I've been part of a lot of tough losses," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "Never been prouder of a team because, we didn't have our game tonight. We did not play like we were the first half. We were ham-and-egging it and just kind of fighting through it.

"We just kept fighting. ... It must have been a hell of a game for TV, hell of a game for the fans."

The Spartans had a chance to tie the game after Massoud’s bucket, but they couldn’t get off a shot despite Walker and Joey Hauser bypassing looks. Malik Hall got the ball on the wing and tried to drive with time winding down; the ball ended up in Walker’s hands, but Nowell stripped him and went the length of a court for a layup at the buzzer as Walker collapsed to the floor in front of MSU’s bench.

"They knew we needed a 3 to tie the game up, and they just played it really well," Walker said. "They switched, and they just guarded the 3-point line well. He made a good play, and none of us could get a clean look, and they got a stop."

Walker, from nearby Westbury, New York, finished 6-for-16 with 16 points but his layup with 5 seconds left sent the game to overtime. A.J. Hoggard led MSU with 25 points and six assists. Hauser had 18 points and hit four 3-pointers apiece along with Walker and Jaden Akins as the Spartans were 13-for-25 from deep. Akins had 16 points and Hall had 11 points and eight boards.

"We wanted to win. We were so close to our goal," Hoggard said. "Just proud of my guys. We just couldn't figure out a way to close the game tonight. That's pretty much it."

Michigan State guard Tyson Walker walks off the court after MSU's 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.
Michigan State guard Tyson Walker walks off the court after MSU's 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.

Hauser also eclipsed 1,000 points for his three-year MSU career with his 3-pointer early in the game.

Nowell set a single-game NCAA tournament record with 19 assists and scored 20 points despite injuring his right foot early in the second half. He returned and played the rest of the game. Keyontae Johnson had 22 points and six rebounds, while Massoud finished with 15 points, including four 3-pointers — two of them from near midcourt.

"They played a tremendous game on the offensive end and defensive end," Nowell said. "It was like a 'Rocky' fight tonight. We was going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And some guys made some big-time plays, so I want to give credit to Tom Izzo and Michigan State."

The Wildcats made 11 of 24 3-pointers and shot 55.9% overall, making six of nine shots in overtime after hitting 61.5% in the first half.

Kansas State (25-9) advances to face the winner of Thursday’s late game at Madison Square Garden between No. 4 seed Tennessee and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic. Tipoff times for Saturday night’s two Elite Eight games will be released later Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Thrilling second half

After Walker’s bucket sent the game to an extra period, the back-and-forth battle amped up even more than it did over the first 40 minutes.

Johnson scored inside for KSU, then Hoggard attacked the basket and got fouled, tying it again with two free throws.

Walker swished a 3-pointer with 3:29 to go to put the Spartans up, 87-84, but Nowell hit a pair of free throws and David N’Guessan scored inside to swing it right back to the Wildcats.

Hoggard continued to attack off the dribble, getting deep into the lane again like he did much of the second half and completing a three-point play to put MSU up, 90-88, with 2:14 to go.

But Nowell continued to use his vision, setting up N’Guessan again to tie the game at 90-all. Johnson’s dunk with 56.2 seconds left in OT gave KSU the lead for good as Hall split a pair of free throws with 42.8 to go.

After Hoggard got a fingertip on a long shot by Nowell, refs reviewed and gave it back to the Wildcats with 17.4 left and 4.7 seconds to shoot. The inbound pass found Massoud in the corner, and he hit a jumper over Hall to make it a three-point Kansas State lead and force MSU’s final scramble.

Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo and his team react after a basket against the Kansas State Wildcats during first-half action in the NCAA tournament East region Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo and his team react after a basket against the Kansas State Wildcats during first-half action in the NCAA tournament East region Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

Early makings of a classic

Things started about how most expected: another rock fight between two high-intensity defenses with two high-energy coaches, feeding off the star-studded crowd inside The Garden.

After Akins' 3-pointer tied it 17-17 just past the midpoint, Walker put together a stretch in which he scored five straight points. Nowell sandwiched a steal and layup between Walker's 3-pointer and driving layup, then the Kansas State point guard got called for a push-off foul with Walker guarding him.

The Spartans led by four on Hauser's two free throws with 5:46 to go before halftime. That's when the Wildcats caught fire from outside, thanks to Nowell's sleight-of-hand passing that kept MSU defenders guessing.

Kansas State hit its final four 3-point attempts in the final 5:31, including one from Nowell that the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Harlem native walked away from as it left his hand and subsequently splashed through the net. That capped an 11-2 run that put the Wildcats up by five with 2:58 to go.

Hoggard hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left and Sissoko completed a three-point play 16 seconds later, but Cam Carter's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left sent Kansas State into half leading, 43-38.

Despite going just 2-for-5 for five points, Nowell had 10 assists at the break while playing all 20 minutes. Johnson was the beneficiary of five of those helpers in going 6-for-8 from the floor for 14 points.

Michigan State guards Tyson Walker, laying on floor, and A.J. Hoggard react after the 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.
Michigan State guards Tyson Walker, laying on floor, and A.J. Hoggard react after the 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.

A virtuoso performance

Nowell drove right against Walker, but he turned his right ankle as he landed and fell to the floor under the basket. Play stopped after an MSU rebound with 15:31 to play, but Nowell had to be helped from the floor.

The Spartans quickly took advantage of his absence. Hall hit a hook shot in the paint, then Akins soared for a tip-in to tie it. After a Johnson bucket for KSU, Hoggard started attacking off the dribble and hit a pair of layups and got fouled on each for five straight points to give MSU a 55-52 lead with 13:11 to go.

Nowell immediately found some Manhattan magic, picking up a loose ball and flinging up a shot that banked in for a 3-pointer and delivering a perfect pass to Carter for a layup. But MSU maintained a 60-59 lead thanks to an Akins 3-pointer after Walker outraced the gimpy Nowell for an offensive rebound and Hall sliced through the interior for a layup.

Every possession from the 10-minute mark on became fraught and intense, a Hollywood drama playing out on the biggest stage in basketball.

Nowell penetrating the paint and finding his teammates for layups.

Hoggard and Walker taking turns scoring, with Hoggard finding his backcourt mate for a 3-pointer off a drive and dish and then Walker getting into the paint and kicking it to Hauser for a triple from the right corner. Kansas State’s Carter answering with a 3 at the other end of the floor.

The game was tied 70-70, and more than seven minutes remained.

The Wildcats dashed off seven more points for a 10-0 run, with a deep 3 from Massoud, who shot it almost from his home in East Harlem. Tomlin slipped through the back line of MSU’s defense for a layup to give Kansas State a 77-70 lead.

But Walker answered with a critical 3-pointer with 4:35 to go, Akins got a block on a Nowell drive after switching on to him after Izzo took a timeout. Hoggard hit a pair of free throws with 3:25 to play to cut it back to a two-point deficit.

Massoud answered with an even deeper 3-pointer from the edge of the midcourt logo to get KSU back up 80-75 with a little over three minutes left.

Michigan State forwards Malik Hall, left, and Jaxon Kohler walk off the court after MSU's 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.
Michigan State forwards Malik Hall, left, and Jaxon Kohler walk off the court after MSU's 98-93 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.

But Walker drove and kicked to Akins for a 3-pointer with 1:33 left, then Hall got a tip-in through contact after a Nowell jumper to pull MSU within two.

With the shot clock winding down, Nowell launched a deep 3-pointer and turned away, thinking it would fall like the last time he did that. Instead, it kicked off the back-iron and Hauser rebounded, with the Spartans taking a timeout with 19.7 to go.

Walker got the inbound pass and held the ball before attacking left, sneaking through the paint and using the backboard for the tying layup. Nowell’s last-chance shot missed, and Hall tipped it away.

Tie game, 82-82. An overtime for the ages was ahead.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball falls in Sweet 16 to Kansas State, 98-93