NEW YORK — MSU is one step away from a trip to the Final Four, but they came out flatter than a four-day old soda. However, the Spartans dug their heels in late in the half to snatch the lead from UConn and head into the locker room with a 25-21 lead.
Sophomore guard Gary Harris is the man for MSU, as he leads the game with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. UConn star guard Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies with eight points, but on a 3-of-9 clip from the field.
MSU ended the half on a 23-9 run, but it was the Huskie faithful that was making the noise at Madison Square Garden to start the game.
The Spartans came out committing three turnovers in the first four minutes and also shot 1-of-9 from the field to start the game. The Spartans have since raised their clip to 9-of-24, and in return they are holding the Huskies to 8-of-29.
As he did against Virginia, senior forward Adreian Payne sparked MSU’s offense. Back-to-back three-pointers by Payne closed the gap to 14-11. Sophomore guard Denzel Valentine scored his first points of the game with a 3-ball to make it a 16-14 ballgame.
The pro-UConn crowd was silenced as Harris knocked down a long ball to give MSU its first lead of the game at 22-21 with3:28 to go. Valentine struck again with a 3-pointer at the end of the half to give MSU the four point advantage.
The Spartans are squeaking out a slight advantage on the boards, as they are outrebounding UConn, 20-18.
MSU is struggling with ball care, as they have committed eight turnovers to UConn’s four.
No one is in foul trouble for MSU, and UConn’s Amida Brimah has two fouls.