It wasn’t easy, but second-seed Michigan State avoided Bradley’s upset bid, winning 76-65 in Thursday’s East Region game in Des Moines, Iowa.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo won his 49th NCAA Tournament game and can get No. 50 when Michigan State plays Big Ten rival Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. Only five other coaches have 50 or more tournament victories: Mike Krzyzewski (94), Roy Williams (77), Dean Smith (65), Joe Boeheim (57) and Rick Pitino (54).
Friday’s victory didn’t come easy for the Spartans, as there were 18 lead changes and eight ties in the game. Bradley, which won the Missouri Valley conference tournament, used a 14-6 run to take a 55-54 lead with 7 minutes, 5 seconds to play in the game. But the Spartans responded by scoring nine straight points and took control of the game.
Michigan State, 29-6, kept Bradley at bay by making all but one of its 26 free-throw attempts.
“I give more credit to Bradley, but we have to much sharper Saturday,” Izzo said on the CBS broadcast.
Izzo was none-too-pleased with his team and it showed during a second-half timeout when yelled at freshman guard Aaron Henry:
It’s possible that this missed dunk by Henry set off Izzo:
“You think there was one thing that would make me that angry, you don’t know me very well,” Izzo told reporters after the game. “There was a bunch of things, you know, and, hey, he’s playing a lot of minutes, too. He’s tired, too. When you are a freshman now at this time of year you don’t make mental mistakes on things we’re telling a guy which way he goes or not running back. There are some things Aaron didn’t do a very good job of and yet, you know what? I did get after him and he did respond and he did make a couple of big buckets and he did make a couple of big free throws, but that’s not good enough.
“This is one-and-done time. The my bads are out the window. If it’s my fault because that guy played better and it’s my bad because I walked back and didn’t sprint back, then it is your bad and you’re going to hear about it. So that’s what it was.”