The Top 25 Most Memorable Michigan State Basketball Games of the Tom Izzo Era

Mark Haddad@MjHaddContributor IMay 20, 2010

The Top 25 Most Memorable Michigan State Basketball Games of the Tom Izzo Era

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    Since joining the Spartan Nation in 1995 to succeed Jud Heathcote, Tom Izzo has made his mark at Michigan State and built a program that is among the nation's elite.

    In Izzo's 15 seasons at Michigan State he has 1 National Championship, 6 Big Ten Titles, four-time national coach of the year, 6 Final Fours, and has made the last 13 NCAA tournaments. In the past 15 years there have been tons of memorable games that as a Spartan, you'll never forget.

Honorable Mentions

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    Michigan State vs. Kentucky 1999 Elite 8
    Spartans defeated the Wildcats 73-66 to advance to Tom Izzo's first Final Four.

    Michigan State @ Kentucky 2002-03
    State traveled down to Rupp Arena to defeat #12 Kentucky 71-67.

    Michigan State vs. USC 2008-09 Second Round
    Senior leader Travis Walton helped MSU scoring 18 points to beat the Trojans 74-69.

    Michigan State vs. Ohio State 1999-00
    MSU beat the #7 ranked Buckeyes 83-72. The highlight of this game was when Morris Peterson threw a posterizing dunk on the nations top shot blocker, Ken Johnson.

    Michigan State vs. Temple Elite 8 2001
    MSU knocked off Cinderella Temple 69-62 to advance to their third consecutive Final Four.

    Michigan State vs. Penn State 2005-06
    I had to put this game in here somewhere simply because of Shannon Brown's throw down slam on Ben Luber. MSU won this game 69-60 and it was a close one down the stretch but Sparty pulled off the win.

Michigan State vs. Oakland 2000-01

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    It was the first game since winning the National Championship the previous year and it turned out to be a special night for Charlie Bell.

    Bell recorded the first MSU triple-double since Magic Johnson last did it in the 1979 Final Four against Pennsylvania. Bell had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Charlie Bell and Magic Johnson are the only 2 Spartans to record triple-doubles. Magic has the most with eight of them in his two seasons as a Spartan.

Michigan State vs. Texas 2007-08 @ The Palace

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    The coming out party for Kalin Lucas was one to remember as he put up 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. This was a match up between two top ten teams on a "neutral court"; even though the game was in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Both teams were young and had bright futures in this highly anticipated game.

    Spartans played a great first half giving themselves a 41-33 lead at the half. MSU continued their dominance running all their sets beautifully and tearing up the Texas defense. Texas made the game close towards the end getting hot from 3 point land but State ultimately held on 78-72.

    This game may not have been the most exciting but showed the great future Spartan basketball had in store. Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen, and Raymar Morgan were all underclassman, and it showed they had game. That's why I think this game was not only very memorable, but very important as well.

Michigan State vs. Indiana 2007-08

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    Another absolute slaughter on senior day for Drew Netizel and Drew Naymick.

    This Indiana team was no joke either. Ranked #12 in the nation and were lead by Eric Gordon and D.J. White. Neitzel and Naymick were very familiar faces in East Lansing. Neitzel was a key player in his 4 years wearing the green and white and Naymick was a role player. Naymick played his first 2 seasons, got injured 7 games into his junior year. He then took a medical red shirt for the remainder of that season and then played his his final 2 seasons.

    The Spartans took over this one right from the start taking a 59-31 halftime lead and scorched the nets, shooting 60% from the field to win the game 103-74 making it a another great senior day.

Michigan State @ North Carolina 1999-00

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    Despite Sparty not having Mateen Cleaves due to a stress fracture injury, this was still a winnable game against No. 2 North Carolina. It was always a dream for Mateen to play at big venues like UNC but was there as an inspiration for his team.

    State took a 44-36 lead into the half on hot shooting from Morris Peterson. MSU kept the hot shooting coming in the 2nd half and UNC couldn't do anything about it. As State kept the points coming it was a thrill to watch Mateen on the bench hobbling up and down cheering on his teammates. With just under four minutes UNC was only down six but a big time "and one" by Andre Hutson helped seal the game. MSU put away the Heels 86-76 to give UNC their first home opener loss in 71 years and put an end to a 55 non conference home win streak for the Tar Heels.

Michigan State vs. Michigan 2009-2010

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    This senior day in East Lansing reminded me a lot of the one 10 years prior because right out of the gates it was another dominating performance against Michigan. This game also won MSU a share of the Big Ten title for the second consecutive season which made it that much more special.

    The seniors were Raymar Morgan, Isiah Dahlman, and Jon Crandall. Raymar played a great game scoring 22 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Dahlman had a alley oop duink off the backboard from Kalin Lucas on the fast break which was the highlight of the game. Dahlman also had another ally oop dunk on a fast break on a feed from Morgan. Crandall played 2 minutes and missed his only shot attempt.

    On this day the Spartans came to play, holding Michigan to only 14 points at halftime. Michigan star, Manny Harris, was held to 4 points on 1 for 10 shooting from the field thanks to great defense by Chris Allen. MSU captured the Big Ten title with the score of 64-48.

Michigan State vs. Michigan 1999-00

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    It was final home game for the Flintstones, and it just happened to be against Michigan.

    This game wasn't close at any point and that's why it was so great. As MSU tore up the rival from Ann Arbor it was a joy to watch. The Spartans were hot out of the gates. The final home game for Mateen and Mo Pete and company was one to remember. As the seniors kissed the block S at mid court it gave me chills and is a game that is hard to forget. The final score was 114-63 in favor of Sparty.

Michigan State @ Michigan 2003-04

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    In this one, MSU was down by ten with 10 minutes left in the game. Until a late Spartan surge by committee became too much for the Wolverines. MSU was only up 2 with 41 seconds when Chris Hill hit a three to just about put the game out of reach. Free throws by Hill and Kelvin Torbert finally shut the door. This is a game that stung for the Wolverines for quit some time.

Michigan State @ Minnesota 2009-2010

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    It's never easy to win in Williams Arena (aka The Barn), specially when Tubby Smith is coaching the Gophers. A player like Kalin Lucas is key to accomplishing such a feat and in this one Kalin proved to be the difference. MSU had a terrific start in the Big 10 starting 7-0 and this win would make it the eighth.

    Sparty started this one slow as the Gophers started out on an 8-0 run. MSU spent the rest of the half chipping away at the lead to finish the half down 34-26.

    The start of the 2nd half didn't look promising either, as State trailed by as many as 13 in the early minutes. Izzo had his men continue to battle hard and make plays to tie the game up 62 with just over two minutes remaining. MSU got the defensive stop and had the ball with with 1:30 left when Lucas went to work and hit a big time three with a low shot clock to put State up 65-62. The Gophers had their chance to win the game with two shot attempts but couldn't get it to fall and Sparty walked out with a 65-64 win.

Michigan State @ Minnesota 2003-04

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    Entering this game the Spartans had an 8-8 record and needed this win against the Gophers. This was the year Izzo was expecting to have an outstanding team and played a tough schedule that included Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Syracuse, and Oklahoma. Due to many players leaving early to the NBA draft, the Spartans struggled early in the season.

    Just 10 minutes into the game MSU found themselves down 23-4 and went into the locker room at half time trailing 27-43. Just 10 minutes in to the 2nd half, MSU rallied to tie the game back up at 53. Down 66-69 with only three seconds remaining, Maurice Ager hit a deep buzzer beating 3-pointer to send the game to OT. In OT, it was Paul Davis knocking down two free throws with 15 seconds left to win the game 79-78.

    Not many people remember this gamebecause it was on a Wednesday and started at 9:00 PM. If you didn't see it live, you probably won't remember it.
    This victory gave MSU momentum going forward as they finished out the season 17-10 with an impressive 12-4 Big Ten record. It proved to be a big win to get the Spartans hot.

Michigan State @ Minnesota 1998-99

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    This was the second meeting of the season between the Spartans and the Golden Gophers as MSU took the first game 71-55 with a dominant 18 offensive rebounds.

    Minnesota looked towards their star in Quincy Lewis, who was averaging nearly 29 points in his last 8 games, to help get them the win. State went into this game ranked No. 4 and Minnesota was No. 20. The Gophers needed this game as they had previously lost their last 2 games and fell below .500.

    Michigan State took a 43-40 halftime lead on a last second 3 by Mateen Cleaves at the end of the half. With 4 minutes left State trailed by eight. A 9-2 run by MSU would put them down 77-76 with 90 seconds left. Mateen got to the free throw line with 40 seconds and nailed them both to give State an 80-79 lead. Minnesota then hit a game tying 3 with 8 seconds left but Mateen took the inbounds pass and rushed down the court for a layup with 1.2 seconds remaining. Minnesota was unable to score to give Sparty the 84-82 win and continue an 11 game win streak.

Michigan State vs. Tennessee 2010 Elite 8

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    Coming off a victory over Northern Iowa it was now time for MSU to take on the #6 seed in Tennessee. It was either the Spartans or Volunteers that would get to the Final Four and both were unexpected teams.

    Right out of gates both teams were hot offensively. To the credit of the MSU offense, they kept responding despite Tennessee hitting their first six shots. The Volunteers took a 41-39 lead going into the half.

    Neither team could make a run until with 12 minutes State took a 59-51, but in the next 2 minutes that lead nearly evaporated. Coming down the stretch the teams were neck and neck and with just 12 seconds remaining Scotty Hopson went split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 69.

    After the second missed free throw by Hopson, MSU pushed the ball down the court and found Raymar Morgan under the rim wide open. He received the pass and got hacked to get to the free throw line. After making the first free throw, Raymar purposely missed the second and a half court heave by the Volunteers fell way short to give MSU a 70-69 win and a ticket to back to back Final Fours.

Michigan State vs. Texas 2006-07 @ MSG

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    One of many meetings to remember between MSU and Texas, and this one was an early season battle that took place in Madison Square Garden. Texas was the heavy favorite behind there freshman phenom Kevin Durant.

    MSU was led by Drew Neitzel who developed into a great player this season. Neitzel was the only returning starter from the previous season. This was a Spartan team that didn't have much talent but fought hard every night to win games. It was really a fun team to watch through the season.

    Kevin Durant started the 1st half on a mission helping Texas take a 40-36 at the half. Thanks to a 10-0 Spartan run with 10 minutes left it put MSU up 54-47. Texas battled back to tie up the game at 61 and MSU had the ball with just 8.4 seconds left coming out of a timeout. Neitzel took the game into his own hands driving the lane to split 2 defenders and laying it in to give State a 63-61 with just 2.4 seconds remaining. AJ Abrams took a deep 3 at the buzzer but missed to give Sparty the 63-61 win over Texas.

Michigan State vs. Texas 2008-09 @ Houston

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    Yet another classic game in December between Michigan State and Texas took place in the Toyota Center in Houston giving Texas the home court advantage. State had won the 2 previous match-ups against Texas and looked to make it 3 in a row on the shoulders of Durrell Summers down the stretch.

    The first half ended in a 34-32 Texas lead and surprisingly Texas out-rebounded MSU 24-17. With just under 4 minutes left in the game Sparty trailed 61-57 until Summers hit a 3 and assisted Kalin Lucas on a mid range jumper to give State a 61-60.

    The Spartans then trailed by 1 with 20 seconds remaining when Summers hit a 3 from wing to put MSU up by 2. Summers would later add on 2 free throws to put the game away. Sparty dominated the paint 38-14 and had a great game from Suton with 18 points and Summers, who had 8 of MSU's 10 points in the final 3:37. Summers finished the game with 14 points to help give MSU the 67-63 victory.

Michigan State @ Michigan 2009-2010

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    As usual, Michigan needed to win this game to keep a slim chance of making an NCAA tourney appearance. And as usual MSU would find a way to keep that from happening.

    Right from the start of this one it was a low scoring back and fourth affair that ended with a 27-25 Michigan lead at halftime.

    It was neck and neck with 38 seconds left and a 56-55 Michigan lead. The Spartans were coming out of a timeout with the ball. They ran the clock down down to nearly 7 seconds when Durrell Summers found Kalin Lucas on the wing. Lucas took a dribble inside the 3 point line to get around to get around Zach Novak to knock down a 2 and put MSU ahead by 57-56.

    Michigan had the ball out of bounds near the scores table and inbounded an ally oop to DeShawn Sims guarded by Summers only to miss the lay up and give MSU the win over Michigan yet again.

Michigan State vs. Maryland 2003 Sweet 16

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    No surprise here, another battle between two great coaches in Tom Izzo and Gary Williams. Ironically, for the ones who remember this game they might recognize that it was very similar to the 2010 Maryland game that ended in a Korie Lucious buzzer beater. This time it was freshman Paul Davis playing the role of a hero.

    With 7 minutes left the Spartans had a commanding 52-39 lead on the Terps. Just 2 minutes later MSU was only up 54-51. With 60 seconds to go and the shot clock running down freshman Paul Davis threw down a huge dunk to tie up the game. Davis struck again with 4.7 seconds remaining banking in a tough layup over a couple Maryland defenders to help seal the Spartan victory and move to the Elite Eight.

Michigan State vs. Louisville 2009 Elite 8

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    Previously beating Kansas in the Sweet 16, it was now time to face the No. 1 seeded Louisville. MSU needed players to step up offensively and defensively to take down a powerhouse team like Louisville.

    In the first half Senior Goran Suton was scorching as he scored 17 points. State took a 30-27 halftime lead. MSU lead 39-36 midway through the second half when a defensive turnover turned into a Durrell Summers dunk. This sparked Summers to score 7 straight points and give MSU a 46-37 lead. From then on, Sparty clicked on all cylinders and denied Louisville any chance at making a run.

    Senior Travis Walton played huge in this game defensively shutting down All-Big East star, Terrance Williams; holding him to just 5 points on 1 of 7 shooting. Another key to success for the Spartans was they didn't allow Louisville to score a single fast break point. This game was a perfect example of a Tom Izzo team playing out of their minds in March. The Spartans put away the Cardinals 64-52 to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2005.

Michigan State vs. Duke 2005 Sweet 16

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    After defeating Old Dominion and Vermont in the previous 2 rounds, it was now time for MSU to battle the no. 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils.

    The Spartans and Blue Devils went into the half tied up at 32. The key moment came with 18 minutes left and a 1 point Duke lead when Shannon Brown and Alan Anderson came up big scoring 8 unanswered points to give MSU a 40-36 lead. State was able to hold a semi-comfortable lead until the 6 minute mark when Duke trailed only 60-58. Paul Davis and Kelvin Torbert were the men to come up big this time, scoring the next 9 points to give MSU a 69-63 lead with 2:30 left. From that point on State lit it up from the free throw line going 8 for 9 to put away the #1 seeded Dukies winning 78-68.

Michigan State vs. Northern Iowa 2010 Sweet 16

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    Northern Iowa came into this Sweet 16 match up fairly confident after beat the nations top team, Kansas, and were thought of the "Cinderella" team.

    At halftime MSU trailed 29-22 but quickly in the 2nd half Delvon Roe's tip slam out of no where helped the Spartans leap right back into it. For much of the half it was a back and fourth low scoring game. With 1:35 left Korie Lucious went to work with a low shot clock and made a fabulous spin move step back jumper to put MSU up by 4 which would eventually crush the glass slipper of Cinderella into a million pieces, winning 59-52.

Michigan State vs. No. 1 Wisconsin 2006-2007

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    The Spartans went into this game against the best team in the country and needing a win to ensure themselves into the NCAA tourney. The game took place on a Tuesday, but the Breslin was rocking as if were a Saturday night game.

    It was a tight ball game down to the 4 minute mark as the Spartans held their ground against Bo Ryan's Badgers and Alando Tucker; one of the nations top players. MSU was down 49-48 when Drew Neitzel caught fire scoring all 11 of MSU points on an 11-2 run.

    Putting the Spartans up 56-51 would be too much for the Badgers. Free throws would seal a 64-55 victory over the nations top team and the Izzone would rush the court. Drew Neitzel had an outstanding game scoring 28 points on 10-17 shooting to help insure MSU a NCAA tourney bid.

Michigan State vs. Kansas 2009 Sweet 16

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    This was a rematch of a game from earlier in the season when MSU beat Kansas 75-62 at the Breslin. Except this time the stakes were much higher; a birth to the Elite Eight.

    Kansas was much improved since the first meeting and it showed as they took a 36-29 lead into the half. The Spartans rallied back in the 2nd half we to tie game at 60 with about a minute left. Out of a timeout MSU spread the floor and let Kalin Lucas take Sherron Collins to the hoop to create a 3 point play. Lucas then sealed the game away making 4 more free throws to send the Spartans to the Elite 8 winning 67-62.

Michigan State vs. Iowa State 2000 Elite 8

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    The toughest game of the 2000 National Championship run was against No. 2 seed Iowa State in the Elite 8. This game was held in the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan. Giving the Spartans a delightful home court advantage over the Cyclones.

    ISU had an 8 point lead with 11 minutes until MSU quickly roared back within minutes. Again ISU pulled ahead with 61-55 with 5 minutes left but that would be the end of their lead as MSU went on a 20-3 tear. The play of the tourney for the Spartans came with 2 minutes left and a 1 point lead out of a timeout. The infamous Mateen to Mo Pete alley oop gave the Spartans the momentum to run from the Cyclones and never look back winning 75-64. Sending the MSU to the Final Four to go on to win the National Championship.

Michigan State vs. Maryland 2010 Second Round

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    Despite Michigan State losing Kalin Lucas in the 1st half of this game, they seemed to be on the road to the Sweet 16 yet again.

    With a 12 point lead with 5 minutes left Maryland began a surge and finally took a 1 point lead with 6.6 seconds remaining. MSU still had 1 timeout left but didn't use it. Instead, Draymond Green took the inbounds pass and hurried the ball down the court, whipped a pass to Korie Lucious with 2 seconds.

    Lucious gave a slight pump fake, took a dribble to his left, fired up a 3 that rattled home with no time left to give the Spartans a 85-83 victory and sent them on to the Sweet 16. This shot propelled Lucious and gave him the confidence to step up to fill the shoes of Lucas and help MSU return to back to back Final Fours.

Michigan State vs. Kentucky 2005 Elite 8

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    This game was in instant classic that will never be forgotten by the Spartan Faithful. MSU battled through the bracket as a #5 seed and Kentucky was a #2 seed in this Elite 8 match up. It was for the right to advance to the Final Four in one of many classic Tom Izzo vs. Tubby Smith games.

    In a close game with seven minutes remaining the 2nd half, MSU took an eight point lead, but Kentucky battled hard and slowly chipped away at the lead.

    After Shannon Brown hit 2 free throws with 20 seconds to put MSU up 75-72 it came down Kentucky ball with just 8 seconds to go out of a timeout. In that long 8 seconds Kentucky was able to take 3 shots (all 3's) due to offensive rebounds and the final shot by Patrick Sparks at the buzzer sat and on rim and finally dropped to send the game to overtime.

    In the first overtime both teams scored only six points to send the game to another OT. Two overtimes was all the Spartans needed to finally put away the Wildcats outscoring them 13-7. Free throw shooting was a strength for MSU all year and proved to be the deciding factor as they had 11 of the 13 points in the 2OT at the line. Shannon Brown led MSU with 24 points on 8-10 shooting from the field in a 94-88 victory to send Izzo to his fourth Final Four.

Michigan State vs. Connecticut Final Four 2009

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    Michigan State lifted the spirits of the economically struggling State of Michigan and advanced to the Final Four which was in Detroit. Although they were yet again underdogs to another #1 seed in Connecticut, MSU would prove to be too much to handle for the Huskies.

    Leading up to the game, Raymar Morgan was heavily criticized on his play and responded in this game scoring 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals. Right out of the gates it was high scoring and at halftime MSU lead 38-36. The Spartans trailed 49-47 with 14:35 left in the 2nd half. MSU suddenly surged to go on a 17-5 run, Draymond Green scoring 8 of them to put give State a 64-54 with 7 minutes.

    MSU had a comfortable lead 73-62 lead until the Huskies created some turnovers and made some plays to go down 74-71 with just over a minute left until Durrell Summers had a 3 point play layup on a fast break to MSU up 5. Free throws by Lucas and Morgan would shut the door on Uconn to win 82-73.

    Thought to be the best dunk in MSU history came with 6 minutes when high flyer Durrell Summers posterized Stanley Robinson on the fast break. Getting to this Final Four helped Izzo extend his streak of every 4 year player under him had been on a Final Four team.

Michigan State vs. Florida 2000 National Championship

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    An obvious choice for the top game in the Izzo era. In Izzo's second Final Four appearance he and the Flintstones put there mark on basketball history as they won Michigan State's 2nd National Championship over the Florida Gators.

    We all remember when Florida Gator Teddy Dupay took down Mateen Cleaves with 16 minutes to go in the 2nd half. About four minutes later, Mateen made his way out of the tunnel with his ankle wrapped up. This moment is one of the greatest in NCAA tournament history as Cleaves hobbled on one foot to help the Spartans go on a 16-6 run to put the finishing touches on the Gators.

    Mateen and the Flintstones finally got their "One Shining Moment" defeating Florida 89-76 to capture MSU's 2nd National Championship.

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