Georgetown pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season with a 64-60 win over No. 7 Michigan State at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Feb. 1.
The Hoyas appeared to be fading fast with five straight losses that dropped them to 3-6 in the Big East. However, point guard Markel Starks ensured that his team came away with a signature win by notching a team-high 16 points against the Spartans.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also found a way to contribute despite going only 2-of-11 from the floor. The banged-up guard, who is battling through a rib injury, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in the winning effort.
As Patrick Stevens points out, the win comes at a perfect time for Georgetown:
For Michigan State, this marks the second loss in three games after starting the year 18-1. Sophomore Gary Harris had 20 points, but he received little help from his teammates. Guard Keith Appling, who ranks third on the team with 15.4 points per game, scored only seven in the loss.
Injuries to Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne left the Spartans shorthanded, which certainly contributed to the loss. Considering the NCAA selection committee takes note of injuries, Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal feels this loss will not be too damaging:
Despite the Hoyas' struggles this season, the matchup started out close. Neither team built up more than a five-point lead in the first half as the two sides traded punches throughout the first 20 minutes.
While Georgetown seemed on the verge of breaking away in the second half, Michigan State kept it close until late. Harris buried a three-pointer to pull the Spartans within two points with about 90 seconds remaining, but three-point shooting was a problem for Michigan State all day long, as noted by Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports:
Michigan State finished 9-of-29 from behind the arc, but it was all too little, too late as Georgetown made the necessary free throws to come away with the much-needed win.
On the other end of the court, the Spartans could not get anything going from the charity stripe while making only nine of their 16 attempts. As Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press notes, head coach Tom Izzo was not happy about it:
The Hoyas will now look to keep this momentum going in conference play with a road matchup against DePaul on Feb. 3. Meanwhile, Izzo's squad will try to get back on track as the Spartans take on Penn State at home on Feb. 6.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.