Michigan State scored a convincing 78-58 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament Friday night at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The ninth-seeded Spartans fell behind by 11 early but used a 25-4 run over a 10-minute span in the first half to seize control and never looked back. They shot 56.6 percent from the field, including 72.7 percent inside the arc, to pull away from the Hurricanes.
Miami, the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Regional, could never find a rhythm offensively (21 of 52 from the field) and was outrebounded 36-23 in the loss.
Michigan State advances to face Midwest top seed Kansas in the second round.
Let's check out a scoring recap from the Round 1 clash:
|2017 NCAA Tournament: (8) Miami (Fla.) vs. (9) Michigan State|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Total|
And here's an updated look at the tournament bracket:
Nick Ward led the way for Michigan State with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds. Miles Bridges added 18 points, including a couple highlight-reel plays, and nine boards, while Joshua Langford also reached double figures in scoring with 13.
Ja'Quan Newton had 16 points to pace an otherwise poor Miami offense. The Hurricanes had just eight assists and made only four shots from beyond the arc.
Miami raced out to the early lead thanks to a combination of active defense and decision-making errors by Michigan State. That allowed the Canes to rack up six steals and convert often in transition.
The game changed once the Spartans started taking better care of the ball. They took full advantage of their physical edge to attack the paint, and it led to a lot of easy looks.
NCAA March Madness highlighted the Bridges bucket to level the score using that exact formula:
Miami never found a consistent answer to prevent Michigan State from getting those open looks. The inability to string together a handful of stops at the defensive end made it impossible to chip into an MSU lead that ballooned after halftime.
Bleacher Report showcased more hard work by Michigan State down low, this time in the form of a Bridges put-back dunk as it pulled away:
Looking ahead, the Spartans are capable of posing a serious threat to Kansas if they play on the same level they did against Miami. They moved the ball around effectively at the offensive end and forced the Hurricanes into a lot of contested shots.
Michigan State also outworked the Canes on the glass. The battle on the boards will be crucial against the Jayhawks as the teams' rebounding rates are separated by just 0.2 percent, per Team Rankings. Those 50-50 balls could be the difference Sunday.
Meanwhile, Miami's season came to a close with a 21-12 record. The Hurricanes will be forced to replace Reed and Kamari Murphy, but a lot of underclassmen played key roles this season, which should put the team in position to contend for another March Madness berth next year.
March Madness TV relayed thoughts from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo after the win:
He was quick to turn the focus to facing Kansas, per Matt Galloway of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
"I think Kansas is a helluva team," Izzo said. "But we've played a lot of big teams this year."