Michigan State got a major battle from ninth-seeded Saint Louis in Sunday’s Round of 32 matchup, but Draymond Green and the Spartans managed to survive. MSU staved off a late Billikens rally to hold on for a 65-61 win, which sends the Spartans to the Sweet 16 next week.
Next up for the Spartans: No. 4 seed Louisville on Thursday night in Phoenix.
Green again led the way for Michigan State, putting up 16 points, 13 boards and six assists. He hit several key buckets in the second half, plus set up Keith Appling for a short jumper late to help stem the tide as Saint Louis mounted a furious comeback.
Michigan State led by as much as 11 in the second, but Saint Louis kept chipping away and frustrated the Spartans — so too did the officiating at times, as the Billikens shot 23 free throws to Michigan State’s 17. After being called for his third foul, Michigan State’s Brandon Kearney headed to the bench in a fit of rage and had to be consoled by his teammates as he sat.
Saint Louis pulled within two at 53-51 with 3:18 left, but the Spartans refused to let them get any closer.