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Michigan State basketball 2021 Michigan State Basketball and UCLA square off in first.four tune.up .

Michigan State basketball 2021 Michigan State Basketball and UCLA square off in first.four tune.up .
ucla basketball, UCLA

Michigan State basketball 2021 Michigan State Basketball and UCLA square off in first.four tune.up .

Michigan State basketball Michigan State basketball State tune-up Michigan square off UCLA first-four … in Basketball and

Thu, 18 Mar 2021 20:00:00 -0700

Michigan State Basketball is forced to compete in a play-in game Thursday against UCLA

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If victorious will be Tom Izzo's 23rd straight tournament birth

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What a way to start the NCAA tournament.  It’s a couple of marquee programs enduring a down year dueling it out in a play-in game for the right to face BYU in the first round.

It’s a battle for the eleventh seed Michigan State Basketball, and the UCLA Bruins are set to square off Thursday night with the opening tip scheduled for 9:57 p.m.

ET.

Michigan State Basketball head coach Tom Izzo is set to embark on his 23rd straight tournament appearance.  After an up and down season, Izzo once again has his club peaking at the right time.  It’s not out of the ordinary to see the Spartans lose some big-time matchups early on in the season but start to string together plenty of wins after Christmas.

If history has shown anything, it’s that an Izzo-coached Spartans team will peak when they need to, win the big game when they need to and become a tough out in the March Madness Tournament.

Over the last two weeks, Michigan State Basketball came away with three victories over top-five teams beating Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois to cement themselves a spot in the dance.  As the Spartans enter the first-four hot, the same shouldn’t be said for UCLA, who enter the contest having lost their last four games.

The Bruins ended the regular season losing to USC, Colorado, and Oregon and then were abruptly removed from the PAC-12 tournament with an 83-79 loss to Oregon State in the first round.

The Spartans will need exceptional play from guard Rocket Watts, who isn’t exactly a traditional point guard but more of a shot-creating shooting guard.  For the Spartans to have success, they need Watts also to be more of a facilitator.

The Spartans will be leaning on their sensational forward Aaron Henry, who averages just over 15 points, 5.7 boards, and 3.5 assists per game.

Senior shooting guard Joshua Langford is averaging just under 10 points per game; if the Spartans want to play spoiler throughout the weekend, they will need someone like Langford to exceed expectations.

The Bruins are led by guard Johnny Juzang who averages 14 points per game.

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If the Spartans survive the weekend, they will be forced to play a taxing three games.  You can catch the game on TBS.  According to Bet365, the Spartans are two-point favorites with a -140 money line.  The total points are set at 133.5.

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Michigan State basketball Michigan State basketball

Thu, 18 Mar 2021 20:00:00 -0700

Michigan State basketball had a hot start, a near collapse, and a recovery that lead to extra time, but an eventual loss to UCLA in NCAA tournament

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Michigan State basketball showed off every bit of its season Thursday night and early Friday morning.

A hot start, a near collapse, and a recovery that lead to extra time.

But UCLA dominated overtime as the Spartans fell apart with missed shots, turnovers and defensive breakdowns.

The Bruins ended MSU’s season with an 86-80 defeat at Mackey Arena, where Tom Izzo’s team has not won since 2014.

TIPPING POINT?:Tom Izzo, Gabe Brown have heated, physical exchange at halftime vs.

UCLA

It is the first time since 1996 that Izzo and MSU (15-13) did not make the round of 64 in the NCAA tournament.

Johnny Juzang and Cody Riley, who was plagued by foul trouble all night, scored seven of UCLA’s nine points in overtime.

The Spartans got just three after blowing a five-point lead in the final 1:10 of regulation.

MSU went 1 of 5 in the extra period, including a Rocket Watts airball and a Gabe Brown brick, and turned the ball twice.

UCLA (18-9), the 11-seed in the East Region, advances to face No.

6 seed BYU at 9:40 p.m.

Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (CBS).

Aaron Henry led MSU with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds in what could be his final college game, getting denied of one more trip home to Indianapolis.

He also committed four of MSU’s 12 turnovers.

Joshua Langford added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and Malik Hall scored 10.

Watts had nine points but was just 4 of 12 and 1 for 6 from 3-point range.

The Spartans opened the game making 5 of 9 from deep but then went 1 of 9 in the second half and overtime.

Jaime Jacquez Jr.

led UCLA with 27 points.

Juzang scored 23, including 17 in the second half and overtime before suffering an apparent right ankle injury in the final minute.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com.

Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

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– March 19, 2021
ucla basketball, UCLA

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