CHICAGO -- Tom Izzo mentioned Magic Johnson and Steve Smith. He credited the greats from the past for setting the tone, planting the seeds for this annual ritual.
March rolls around and Michigan State kicks into gear. It's happening again, folks.
The Spartans (23-10) trailed by 16 in the first half, went on a big run early in the second after Izzo lit into his team at the break and took control in the closing minutes. Izzo's team will try to make it two straight titles and three in four years when it takes on No. 6 Wisconsin on Sunday. The Badgers knocked off Purdue 71-51 in the other semifinal.
"I think because we have so many great alums that really look at this month and they call from everywhere and they call our players, and our players, I think, somewhat feel a little obligated," said Izzo, who has led Michigan State to six Final Fours and one NCAA championship in 20 years. "That's not a bad thing, you know, to live up to the standards of the people that built the program."
Melo Trimble led Maryland with 22 points, but hit just two of his last 11 shots. Dez Wells (10 points) was the only other player in double figures for the Terrapins (27-6), who had won eight in a row.
"I'm proud of my team -- 27 wins now," coach Mark Turgeon said. "We're looking forward to what lies ahead."
It was 48-all when Gavin Schilling hit a free throw and dunked to give Michigan State a three-point lead with 3:44 left. That started a decisive 9-2 spurt.
Dawson had a thunderous dunk before Lourawls Nairn Jr. hit one of two free throws to make it 57-50 with 1:31 remaining.
Swept by Maryland in the regular season, Michigan State trailed by as much as 16 in the first half and was down by 11 early in the second when it scored 15 straight to go up 40-36.
Marvin Clark Jr. soared in for a left-handed dunk to make it a one-point game. Denzel Valentine nailed a 3 from the right side after missing his first five shots to give Michigan State its first lead at 38-35. Matt Costello added a basket before Maryland's Evan Smotrycz hit a 3, ending a 7-minute, 23-second scoring drought.
"We came out and played with more energy in the second half," Valentine said. "We came back against a great team."
COLD START, HOT START
The Spartans missed their first nine shots in the game, clanging open jumpers and point-blank layups. It was 12-1 before Trice hit a 3 from the left corner with 14:37 left, and it wasn't like they were having much luck on the other end, either.
Trimble got off to a blistering start for Maryland, hitting his first five shots and scoring 13 points as the Terrapins jumped out to a 23-7 lead. The Spartans went on a 9-0 run to pull within five with 4:30 left in the half, with Trice hitting a 3 from the left corner to make it 25-20 after Matt Costello grabbed an offensive rebound and passed to him.
"We weren't getting back in transition," Trice said. "A couple of (Trimble's) 3's were walk-in, wide-open 3's. As a scorer, any time you can see one or two go through easy, it kind of gets you rolling."
Michigan State: The Spartans lost by two in double overtime and by 16 to Maryland during the regular season.
Maryland: Maryland is 11-1 in games decided by six points or less. "We've won a lot of close games, so I think that gives us confidence moving forward, if anything," Smotrycz said. ... The Terrapins shot 36 percent in the second half.
Michigan State: Meets Wisconsin in Sunday's final.
Maryland: Waits to find out where it's going for the NCAA Tournament.
- Terry Wymer
- D.J. Carstensen
- Paul Szelc