Michigan State edges out Davidson 74-73 in first round of the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Davidson Michigan St Basketball
Posted at 2:23 AM, Mar 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 02:23:44-04

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Joey Hauser scored a career-high 27 points and Michigan State edged Davidson 74-73 on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

A.J. Hoggard added 14 points for the Spartans, the West Region’s No. 7 seed. Michigan State used a 16-3 run to go ahead for good while allowing just one field goal over a critical 6-minute stretch. The 10th-seeded Wildcats hit two desperation 3-pointers in the final minute to stay alive. Luka Brajkovic scored 18 points to lead Davidson while Sam Mennenga had 15.

Michigan State was tough enough to take back the lead in a critical moment, then fortunate enough to withstand Davidson's desperation final charge.

“I thought it was a little bit of a roller-coaster,” Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo said.

The Spartans survived regardless, getting a career-high 27 points from Joey Hauser to edge the Wildcats 74-73 on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament's first round. The win sets up one more marquee postseason matchup with Duke and retiring Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.

Seeded seventh in the West Region, Michigan State (23-12) had to wrestle away control of a tight game against the Wildcats in the second half. The Spartans used a 16-3 run to go ahead for good while allowing just one field goal over a critical 6-minute stretch, pushing the Spartans to their largest lead at 67-59 with a minute left and seemingly putting the game away.

Only the 10th-seeded Wildcats (27-7) took the fight to the final minute, though, even while getting tripped up by several quick — and sometimes borderline — whistles down the stretch.

Luka Brajkovic scored 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting to lead Davidson. Sam Mennenga added 15 points as the Wildcats shot 48% and made 10 of 25 3-pointers — but just couldn’t quite catch the Spartans.

“We were in the center ring the whole night,” longtime Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “We were not on the ropes. We were not on the mat. We were in the center ring slugging away, and we just ran out of time.”

Davidson pulled to within 72-70 on a 3-pointer from Foster Loyer, a transfer facing his former team, with 4.6 seconds left. Then, after Tyson Walker hit two free throws to put the margin back to four, Hyunjung Lee hit a desperation 3 for Davidson with a half-second left.

A.J. Hoggard (14 points) threw a long inbounds pass to Gabe Brown for a deep-ball catch that killed the last of the clock. That finally clinched what felt at times like a road game with the rowdy Davidson fans supporting a team from roughly a two-hour drive away in neighboring North Carolina.

“That last minute,” Brown said, “it was a lot of pressure going on.”

Now, it will be Izzo vs. Krzyzewski one more time.

The two teams have played often over the years — both are part of the four-team Champions Classic along with Kentucky and Kansas that traditionally begins the college hoops season. But despite a national title and eight Final Four trips on his resume, Izzo hasn’t had much success against his counterpart: He’s just 3-12 in 15 tries against Coach K.