What started with the shooting of Gary Harris and ended with the all around play of Adreian Payne, resulted in victory for the No. 3 seed Michigan State basketball team (27-8) as the Spartans finished off the No. 6 seed Memphis Tigers (31-5) by a score of 70-48 to move themselves on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Out of the gate, things got off to a pretty slow start, with neither side able to put the ball in basket much. However, that all changed when, as mentioned before, freshman guard Gary Harris helped get the Spartans going when he hit a mid range jumper to give Michigan State a 10-6 advantage at the 12:53 mark.
After that, Harris would go on to hit 4-5 three pointers to spearhead a stretch that put Michigan State on top 26-13 with 8:00 to go in the half.
It was at that point though that Memphis coach Josh Pastner quickly called a timeout and switched the Tiger’s defense around to the Triangle and two method, which more or less, locked Harris up for the rest of the half.
And the change of defense worked out pretty well for the Tigers for awhile as they closed the half out on a 16-6 run to go into the break down just three, 32-29.
When the second half began and most of the momentum going the Tiger’s way, it appeared as if Michigan State and Memphis were in for an interesting finish to this one.
However, for Memphis, they really struggled to get their shot to fall in the second half, managing to score just one field goal nearly 9 minutes in, allowing Michigan State to jump out ahead 45-32.
From that point on, Memphis finally hit a couple of shots to close the Michigan State lead to eight, 45-37, but that would be as close as they would get for the rest of the afternoon as Michigan State took control of the game.
With Gary Harris out much of the second half due to foul trouble, the guy who really helped the Spartans take control of the game was junior center Adreian Payne. Payne seemed to be everywhere in the second half, blocking shot after shot on defense all the while hitting jumpers and throwing down dunks on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and a career high 5 blocks en route to the Spartan’s 70-48 victory.
As for Harris, after getting off to such a hot start, finished the game with a career high 23 points in just 25 minutes. Michigan State also got a pretty big boost in this one from both senior Derrick Nix and freshman Denzel Valentine. Nix followed up his 23 point, 15 rebound performance against Valpo with another strong showing against Memphis, finishing with 13 points and 8 boards, while Valentine wound up with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
For Memphis, almost everyone had a rough shooting night for the Tigers but they were led by junior guards Geron Johnson (16 points) and Joe Jackson (12 points).
Despite the large margin of victory for the Spartans though, there were still a few things that the Spartans will want to improve upon in this game as they move forward in this tournament. And they can start with the turnovers. The Spartans had 18 of them in this game and a lot of them weren’t really forced either. They just threw the ball away at times. There is no question that this is something Michigan State will want to sort out if they want to keep on advancing in this year’s tourney.
Up next for the Spartans, they’ll await the winner of the Duke-Creighton match up, which takes place Sunday at 9:40 PM.
Follow Ryan Squanda on twitter @squandarunner