Ward leads Michigan State's furious rally past Miami

Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. and coach John Beilein Getty Images
Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. and coach John Beilein Getty Images
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29 March, 2017

He kept running the Michigan Wolverines offense against an aggressive Oklahoma State defense and eventually things fell into place.

Two of the nation's best offenses, coming off impressive second halves of the season, dueled in an exciting first-round matchup to begin Friday's tournament action, with No. 7 seed MI pulling off a 92-91 win over the No. 10 seed Cowboys in Indianapolis, thanks especially to absurdly prolific 3-point shooting. "And I'm sure in the state of MI they thought totally otherwise". "I just tap into the fact that I know I've worked really hard and trust my mechanics, for the most part", he said.

The Spartans poured it on to open the second half, with Langford scoring nine of their first 11 points.

"I don't know what (Izzo) does the beginning of March that's different than what most mortals do, (but) he gets his team always ready to play", Self said.

Seventh-seeded MI needed every point it could muster in a game that ended with a parade to the free-throw line, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a foe that refused to go away. They have won six straight - five since a frightening plane mishap on the way to last week's Big Ten Tournament.

Liam Folkes, Nate Sucese and David Goodwin netted the early scores in a 4-1 victory over MI in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

But rather than change the game plan, Walton followed the script, steadied his team and the shots started going in. Point guard Derrick Walton Jr. led the way with a double-double, recording a game-high 27 points and 11 assists.

Walton wound up 6 of 9 on 3s, and Zak Irvin made four more in front of his hometown crowd. The Jayhawks blew out No. 16 UC-Davis in its first round matchup on Friday, and are a favorite by many to reach the Final Four.

Michigan State shot just 30 percent from 3-point range against Miami, a number that is going to have to be higher if they want to pull off the upset.

The Cowboys come into the tourney with three straight losses, all to ranked teams, and four straight losses in NCAA Tourney play.

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MI erased a six-point second-half deficit with a run of four 3s, the last from Walton with 12:28 to go to take a 62-61 lead. But they had ended the regular season with an eight-game winning streak.

Derrick Walton Jr. scored 26 points and MI made 16 3-pointers Friday to hold off Oklahoma State 92-91 in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

In Sacramento, with star big man Chris Boucher cheering in a bulky knee brace from the sidelines, Tyler Dorsey scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures, and No. 3 seed OR rolled past 14th-seeded Iona.

Leyton Hammonds nailed a trey, cutting it to a three-point deficit with 4:51 left, but Duncan Robinson counter with a three-pointer of his own to keep the Cowboys at bay.

"There was a lot of things said in that first timeout", freshman point guard Cassius Winston said. Two talented freshmen, Nick Ward (19 points, 8-9 field goals) and Miles Bridges (18 points, 8-12 field goals) played to their full potential.

Isaiah Hicks added 17 points and Kennedy Meeks had 13 for the Tar Heels, who are a No. 1 regional seed for an NCAA-record 16th time.

Jaylen Barford hit the go-ahead layup with 57.8 seconds left to help Arkansas hold off Seton Hall 77-71 on Friday in the first round of the South Region.

But the Spartans will see a veteran team in the Jayhawks.

Jo Lual-Acuil scored 16 points and Johnathan Motley added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears (26-7), who were upset in the first round by Georgia State and Yale the previous two years. The Wolverines almost never made it to Washington for that tournament.


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