The No. 24 Michigan State Spartans headed to College Park for a late conference season game match-up against the No. 9 Maryland Terrapins in the hope of keeping alive their chance at a share of a would be third straight conference title. Maryland leads the conference heading into the match-up with a 13-4 record, while MSU sits at 11-6. ESPN College Gameday made their first visit to Maryland since 2005, and the student section was mostly filled out with two hours go to before tip.
Michigan State scored first blood after winning the tip. Henry got the rebound on his own jumper and lays it back in for two and the Spartans took the early lead. Then just like that it was nine-zip for the Spartans and a quick timeout called by Coach Turgeon.
The run continued coming out of the timeout as Michigan State kept the hot hand and built their early lead out to 17-5, going three-for-three from three point range and four-for-five from two point land. In contrast, Maryland started play two-for-seven on shooting overall, including one-of-three shooting from deep.
The Terps managed a seven-zip scoring run to bring it back within five and the score at 17-12. Donte Scott fouled Cassius Winston with 12:36 to go on a drive to the basket, and Winston drained both of his free throws to stretch the lead out to 19-12 for the Spartans. Then the game was cold until the next media timeout as Marcus Bingham committed a shooting foul and the teams headed to the bench.
Maryland came out of the timeout with a fury and just like that it was 19-18 Spartans with a narrow lead when Kyle Ahrens comes to the rescue with a big time three with 11:05 left to go. Anthony Cowan Jr. answered back with a layup and it was kept close and tied by the Terps shortly thereafter at 23-all with 10:07 to go. However, Xavier Tillman finally got on the board with a put-back off a missed Ahrens three, and the Spartans extended the lead to 30-23 by the next media timeout with 7:25 to go.
In the second to last stretch of the game, both teams were extra cold on this one. Perhaps the most fitting moment to exhibit this stretch of play was when Winston didn’t catch Thomas Kithier setting a screen for him and the pass bounced off Kithier’s forehead as a result. The Spartans managed to keep possession of the ball and Tillman finally ended the drought of both teams with a jumper with 3:44 to go. Cowan answered right back and it was 32-25 as we went into the final media timeout of the half with 2:44 to go.
Coming out of the last media timeout, the Spartans managed a late game run to stretch their lead. Aided by a big-time half-court buzzer beater by Winston (unlike last game, this one got off before the buzzer), the Spartans headed into the locker room with the lead 40-29. Winston leads in scoring with 13 points, and added three assists despite also adding four turnovers. Tillman leads on the boards with five, and adds six points to the scoreboard. Malik Hall is second on the team in points and rebounds, with seven points and four boards.
The Spartans are hot this half with 41 percent shooting from deep, going 7-17 overall. They are shooting 48 percent overall from the floor. They lead in rebounds 18-15, and are three-for-four from the free throw line. However, both teams are tied for offensive boards at six, and the Spartans have a 10-5 advantage in assists.
Coming out of the locker room to open the second half it was Maryland ball, however it was still MSU making the scoring runs. MSU went on a nine-to-four run to open the second half before Turgeon called a timeout with 17:15 to go following a layup by Tillman on an assist from Rocket with 17:17 to go.
Coming out of the timeout, the Spartans managed to stretch the lead even further out to 54-38 before the media timeout with 15:38 to go. Coming out of that one it was a bit more even scoring wise as the Spartans managed seven to Maryland’s five by the next media timeout. Hall accounted for all seven points for the Spartans off of a three, a jumper, and two free throws. The Spartans went into the next media timeout up 61-43 with 11:41 to go in the game as a result.
Down the next stretch of action it finally saw the Terps eat away at the Spartans lead, and big time as the Terps went on a 11-5 scoring run to bring it within striking distance as the clock keeps ticking down. Then with 8:19 to go, Henry committed a foul on Wiggins, while Bingham and Smith got into a dust-up and drew a double-technical after a timeout on the floor to review the tape.
Two huge shots from Rocket Watts finally staunched the bleeding for the Spartans as they stretched the lead back out to 71-57 with 6:24 to go.
The Terps kept within striking distance over the final minutes, and even pulled within ten with 2:42 to go. However, they couldn’t get over the hump and the lead held steady at ten until Malik Hall headed to the free throw line with 0:58 to go in the game. This was following a Michigan State timeout with 1:00 to go, and when the Terps fans started flocking for the exit.
Rocket Watts ended the game dribbling it out after a missed three by Donta Scott. Final score 78-66. Spartans beat them out in every category statistically. Winston led the Spartans with 20 points, Tillman had the double-double with 12 boards, 14 points, and led the team with six assists as well. Malik Hall had a huge game with 16 points, good for second for the Spartans, four rebounds, and three assists. MSU ended the game 42.9 percent from three, going 12-28. Overall shooting against one of the top defensive teams per KenPom was 47.5 percent, going 28-59.
How does that make them feel? Let’s take a look:
In the post-game, Coach Izzo had a few choice comments worth mentioning. First of all is the fact this was “a hell of a win for us.” He added that the team had “some of the dumbest turnovers,” but he was happy overall with rebounding and ball movement. Izzo thought highly of how the Spartans handled the crowd. He added that “my two freshmen really played extremely well, but guys got them the ball.”
Coach Izzo also said that he asked the players to play for Winston and the other seniors, and thought that “there was a little more fire from the opening get-go.” Further, that “we never really slowed down.” And as for the half-court buzzer beater by Cassius to end the first half? It was “an unbelievable designed 75-foot play.”