COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — On a freaky Friday of NCAA tournament upsets, Michigan State wasn’t going down.
Draymond Green wouldn’t stand for it.
Green scored 24 points in his second career tournament triple-double, Derrick Nix added 18 points and top-seeded Michigan State fought off the upset bug that took down two No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tourney, advancing in the West Regional with an 89-67 win over LIU Brooklyn on Friday night.
The Spartans (28-7) finally put away the pesky No. 16 Blackbirds (25-9) with a 14-4 run midway through the second half. Michigan State outscored LIU 47-30 after halftime.
Michigan State will play Saint Louis in the third round Sunday.
Green added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first player to have two triple-doubles in the tournament since MSU legend Magic Johnson. The Big Ten’s player of the year didn’t have a turnover in 35 minutes and also provided some encouraging — and a few choice — words for his teammates in the second half when LIU was giving the Spartans all they could handle.
Jamal Olasewere scored 17 and Julian Boyd and C.J. Garner had 15 apiece for LIU, trying to make history by bringing down a No. 1 on the same day No. 2 seeds Missouri and Duke were beaten.
Pushed for 30 minutes by LIU, the Spartans showed down the stretch why some experts are picking coach Tom Izzo and his squad to make another Final Four appearance.
Green was the difference, and after he was pulled in the final minutes, he slapped hands with Michigan State’s muscular Spartan mascot. About the only thing he didn’t do was lead the band.
Although its roster is comprised of players from across the country, LIU Brooklyn is a bonafide New York team with the city’s toughness, street smarts and attitude.
Coach Jim Ferry was sure his team wouldn’t back down from the Big Ten big boys.
He was right. But an upset?
Up by nine in the second half, Michigan State stretched its lead to 13 when Nix, generously listed at 270 pounds, scored underneath and Green, unable to pound it inside to his teammate, knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 60-47. Boyd countered with a 3 for LIU, but after a timeout, Michigan State ripped off six in a row, opening a 66-50 lead on Wood’s layup.
Moments later, Green hit another 3 and the amiable senior skipped back on defense, flapping his arms to encourage Michigan State’s fans to cheer.
He then fed Nix for an alley-oop dunk and when Wood buried a 3-pointer to make it 74-54, fans began pouring to the exits of Nationwide Arena.
Michigan State joined the other No. 1s — Syracuse, Kentucky and North Carolina — in advancing. Top seeds are now 112-0 against No. 16s.
As the teams left the floor at halftime with Michigan State ahead just 42-37, a fan in the LIU cheering section held up a hand-painted sign that read: “Upset Alert!”
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