|Posted on March 16, 2018 at 9:30 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
In their home state, the Michigan State Spartans, a 3-seed, got into the trenches with the 14-seed Bucknell Bison in the Round of 64 in Detroit, Michigan.
Michigan State never trailed Bucknell for the first 14 minutes and change until Bucknell took the lead off of a three-pointer by senior forward Zach Thomas with 5:24 remaining before halftime, that made it 28-27.
Exactly 30 seconds later, the Spartans responded with a jumper from sophomore guard Joshua Langford that brought them back the lead, 29-28.
Sophomore guard Cassius Winston with a tough take to the rim got Michigan State out to a three-point lead, 31-28, and then he would extend the Spartans out even farther when he cashed in from downtown on the very next possession, making it 34-28 Spartans.
The Bison would charge forward on a 7-0 run to get within one, 41-40, with 50.5 seconds before the break.
Sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges would head to the rack for the layup and make the subsequent free throw to extend the Spartans out to a 44-40 advantage.
Michigan State would keep that four-point lead after a shot-clock violation waved off a fadeaway three, leaving Bucknell two possessions behind the 3-seed of the Midwest Region at the half.
The Bison brought their deficit to two possessions once again, this time with 15:29 remaining in the second half, with Thomas' three made free throws following a deep try that made it 52-46 Spartans.
A one-handed putback slam by Bridges would, however, extend Michigan State out to a double-digit advantage, 58-48.
Bucknell's offense was quiet in the second half, failing to attain a field goal between the 19:49 mark and 8:18 remaining in the second half, a span of 11 minutes and 31 seconds.
A technical foul on Thomas with 6:06 left in the game put Bucknell's top scorer on the bench for the rest of the contest. At the time, he had more than half of Bucknell's points, 27 of their 52. Langford made both free throws that came as a result of that technical, giving the Spartans a 62-58 lead.
An 8-0 run by the Bison would bring them within eight of the Spartans, 75-67, with 36 seconds to play.
Bucknell would make three shots from beyond the arc in the final 12 seconds, the last one to beat the final buzzer, but it would not be enough thanks to Michigan State going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to end the game. If the Spartans had missed those free throws, that last-second three from the Bison might have spelled overtime.
Instead, Michigan State would close out the contest with an 82-78 win, giving the Spartans another day in this tournament, advancing to the Round of 32 here in Detroit, Michigan.
Bridges would lead Michigan State with 29 points on 12-for-22 shooting and the aforementioned 27 from Thomas would lead the Bison.