Thursday, March 21, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Derrick Nix led the way with 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as the third-seeded Spartans coasted past the Crusaders in second round of the NCAA Tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Keith Appling added 15 points and Gary Harris scored 10 for Michigan State (26-8), which will take on Memphis in Saturday's third round.
Ben Boggs scored 15 points and Erik Buggs chipped in 14 as No. 14 seed Valparaiso dropped its opening game of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time. The Horizon League champion shot 35.2 percent.
The Midwest Regional contest was tied at 8-8 nearly nine minutes into the first half when the Spartans started to take control. Harris hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 24-4 run and Valparaiso went 7:55 between field goals before Matt Kenney and Ryan Broekhoff connected from beyond the arc to help cut it to 35-18 at the break.
Michigan State stretched it out to 49-22 on Harris' layup with 14:15 left before the Crusaders finally found a rhythm. Valparaiso got 10 straight points from Boggs in the final 1:54 to provide the final margin.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Michigan State reached the regional semifinal last spring and has won its first game in the Tournament in six of the last seven seasons. The last time the Spartans faced Valparaiso in the NCAA Tournament was in the first round in 2000 - the last time Michigan State won the National Championship. ... The Crusaders have not won an NCAA Tournament game since current coach Bryce Drew led them to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998. ... Valparaiso struggled to 7-of-25 from beyond the arc, including 1-of-9 from Broekhoff.