SPOKANE, Wash. — Branden Dawson vowed when he broke his hand he would come
back stronger than ever.
Well, Harvard is getting the raw end of that promise, as the
junior forward has lit up the Crimson for 20 points, tying a career high. He
also leads the game with six rebounds.
His early efforts have pushed No. 4-seed MSU to a 45-33
lead over No.12-seed Harvard.
If the Spartans can hold onto their 12-point lead, they will
punch their tickets to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Two days after claiming MSU’s NCAA Tournament scoring record
with 41 points, senior forward Adreian Payne has eight points on 3-of-5
shooting. He also missed his first free throw in his NCAA Tournament career, as he clanked one off the rim at the 17:56 mark of the game. He made his previous 30 attempts.
It was obvious early on in the half that MSU’s athleticism would
be overwhelming for the Crimson, as the Spartans ran the floor to give them 10
fast-break points to Harvard’s zero. All 10 of those points came within the
first 10 minutes of action too.
The Spartans are also having their way around the rim, as
they are outscoring Harvard in the paint 24-14.
Dawson wasted no time pilling up the stats, as he recorded
six points, three rebounds and a steal in the game’s first five minutes.
Dawson scored his eighth point of the game on a play that
summed up the whole half — an uncontested alley-oop assisted by sophomore guard
Gary Harris. Assists, rather than points, are what Harris is giving MSU as he
and sophomore guard Denzel Valentine lead the team with four each.
Harvard’s top defender, Wesley Saunders, who is leading the
Crimson with 13 points, has been a big reason why Harris only has fired off
five shots. He hasn’t been able to shut down the whole green and white brigade,
as MSU is shooting 54 percent from the field.
Another stat MSU can hang its hat on is turnover margin — they only have given up the ball once.
MSU only made six trips to the free throw line, where they
are shooting 4-of-6.
Senior guard Keith Appling is the lone Spartan in foul
trouble, as he has two fouls. Harvard forward Jonah Travis is the only one for
the Crimson with two fouls.