How Michigan State basketball's first NCAA tournament matchup with UCLA seeded success

Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read

Michigan State basketball will face UCLA in a First Four game in the East region Thursday, 10 years and a day after the two schools met in the Round of 64 on March 17, 2011.

Let's look back at how that game played out a decade ago.

The 2010-11 Spartans weren’t built to go deep in the tourney. Their longest winning streak lasted three games, and that came to open the season against Eastern Michigan, South Carolina and Chaminade. But making the Big Ten tournament semifinals nabbed them an NCAA berth, albeit with low expectations. First on the schedule, a meeting with No. 7-seed UCLA in the Southeast region in Tampa, Florida.

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TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans attempts to control the ball against the UCLA Bruins during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17: Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans attempts to control the ball against the UCLA Bruins during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.

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And sure enough, the Bruins built up a 23-point lead with eight minutes remaining in Tampa, Florida. But the Spartans fought back, sparked by a 20-5 run, and pulled within one point with the ball in the final few seconds.

"I'm so proud of these guys," coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "They've been knocked down so much this year. They fought back and put themselves in a position to possibly take this game at the end." But point guard Kalin Lucas was called for traveling with 4.4 seconds left, killing the comeback as UCLA held on to win, 78-76.

Michigan State's Kalin Lucas walks off the court after being called for traveling at the end of the 78-76 loss to UCLA in the of NCAA tournament on March 17, 2011, at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Michigan State's Kalin Lucas walks off the court after being called for traveling at the end of the 78-76 loss to UCLA in the of NCAA tournament on March 17, 2011, at the St. Pete Times Forum.

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Still, the seeds for greatness were planted with junior Draymond Green’s triple-double: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists — and a bonus motivational quote: “Next season starts as soon as we get back.”

Indeed it did: The Spartans, under Green's senior leadership, went on to win a share of the Big Ten regular-season title in the 2011-12 season and take the conference tourney en route to a Sweet 16 NCAA tournament run.

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball's first NCAA tournament game vs. UCLA