Nix, Michigan State Move to Round of 32

When it comes the NCAA Tournament, there is not a coach or a team that has a better reputation than Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans. They once again proved that reputation well-earned on Thursday, defeating the Crusaders 65 -54 in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate.

While the 26-9 13th seeded Horizon League champs were not the stiffest of competition, the Crusaders are a well coached program that finished 6th in the NCAA in shooting percentage, and the Spartans sent a clear signal to the rest of the field with such a dominant performance.

Early in the game, the Crusaders were competitive, keeping the score 8-8 with just a little over 11 minutes left to play in the first half. Then, the athletic superiority of the Spartans kicked in, and Valparaiso began settling for shots as the stifling Michigan State defense created turnovers and kept the Crusaders from penetrating.

Michigan State closed the half with a 35-18 lead.

The Spartans emerged from halftime equally hot, expanding their lead to 49-20. Valparaiso then went on an 11-0 run to close the gap to 18 points. The Crusaders would continue to slowly move in the right direction to keep the loss to 11 points.

Valparaiso was led by Senior guards Ben Boggs and Erik Buggs who contributed 15 and 14 points a piece. The two typically play more minor roles for the team.

Michigan State was led by a dominant 23 point performance by Senior forward Derrick Nix who averages only 9.5 ppg. Leading scorers Keith Appling and Gary Harris contributed 15 and 10 points.

At the beginning of the game it was revealed that former Spartan greats like Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson had called players with the simple message of “we are Michigan State, and this is our time of the year.”

It is clear Izzo’s team will carry that mentality throughout the tournament, and the Spartans will move on to play the winner of the 2:45 game between Memphis and St. Mary’s


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