Adreian Payne scored 41 points and added eight rebounds to help the No. 4 seed Michigan State Spartans (27-8) come away with a 93-78 victory over the Delaware Blue Hens (25-10) to move on to the third round of the 2014 NCAA tournament.
It all began with 8:21 to go in the first half. After Delaware’s Kyle Anderson missed a 3-point jumper, Payne grabbed a rebound. and got the ball up to fellow senior Keith Appling, who pushed the ball up the floor. Trailing the play, Payne received a pass back from Appling, stepped up and drilled a three to give the Spartans a 27-18 lead.
The shot prompted a Delaware timeout and this is when it happened.
This is when Adreian Payne took over.
The senior big man would go on to score 17 straight for the Spartans, finishing the half with 23 points, and helping his team build a lead as big as 18 in the first half, 36-18.
However, upon the Spartan’s construction of their 18 point lead, the Blue Hens would go on a 11-0 run to close the Michigan State lead to seven, 36-29, and would keep the deficit manageable at the half, 44-33.
In the second half, Delaware continued to hang around, as every time Michigan State seemed to be pulling away, Delaware guards Devon Saddler, who finished with a team-high 21 points, or Davon Usher (20 points), would hit a shot to keep things close.
But with Payne sent to the bench for some rest for a stretch during the second half, the Spartans received a run from another guy on their team: Travis Trice. Trice scored 13 points during the second half on Thursday afternoon, finishing the game with 19 points, the last of his points coming off of a 3-pointer which gave the Spartans a 69-50 lead with 10:07 to play.
From there, Michigan State would continue to roll. Riding Payne’s monstrous 41-point game, which included a 17 for 17 performance from the free throw line, the Spartans would go on to take the game, 93-78.
It was a big win for Michigan State, who coming off of a Big Ten tournament championship, have suddenly vaulted themselves into the spotlight of the nation. And if there’s anything the Spartans proved with their victory on Thursday, it’s that they’re capable of playing under the watchful eye of the entire country.
Michigan State has played through injuries all season long and now with all their guys back, they have the opportunity to truly put all those tough times in the past and prove what they can do in the tournament.
Up next for the MSU Basketball team, they’ll take on the No. 12 seed Harvard Crimson (27-4) on Saturday, who are coming off of a 61-57 second round victory over 5-seeded Cincinnati.
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