Joey Hauser scored 17 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State clamped down defensively on No. 10 seed Southern California in the second half on Thursday for a 72-62 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s East Region.
Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans (20-12) will face the winner of the Vermont–Marquette matchup on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16. Marquette coach Shaka Smart sat on press row for part of the second half to get a closer look at what could be his next opponent.
[Michigan State can play free in NCAA Tournament]
Smart watched as Michigan State ramped up its defensive intensity after halftime to muzzle the streaky Trojans (22-11), who were knocked out in the tournament’s first round for the second straight year.
Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins added 12 points apiece for Michigan State, which held USC to 34% shooting in the second half. It felt like every possession was a challenge for the Trojans, who only stayed within range with some late 3-pointers and some atrocious free-throw shooting by Michigan State.
The Spartans missed six straight from the line during one stretch while trying to close it out and finished 15 of 25 overall.
Joshua Morgan scored 14 and Kobe Johnson 13 to lead USC.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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