Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN — March 18, 2021
The Spartans let one get away. After taking an early lead and fending off several UCLA runs, Michigan State was up by 5 points with just 1:10 to play. Then Sparty went stone cold. You could almost feel it, the legs stiffed up, the arms got heavy, shots that rolled around the rim and bounced in now failed to even catch the iron.
It was ironic that two of the most lauded college basketball programs in the country were doing battle to secure a 12th seed in the NCAA Tournament they have won a combined 13 times (UCLA-11, MSU-2). UCLA made the final 64 team Championship bracket and faces BYU on Saturday after posting the 86-80 victory in a First Four tournament play-in game.
Michigan State is left to ponder how a team ranked 13th in the AP Preseason poll finished 15-13 and without a win in the Big Ten Tournament or the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Game highlights and lowlights tell the story. With the score tied at 77-77, Michigan State held the ball with 29 seconds left and the shot clock off. At the very least the Spartans were expected to go to overtime and they had the final shot with a chance to win the game. Aaron Henry’s jumper, as time wound down, was an air-ball. UCLA missed a desperation half-court bomb at the buzzer.
The Bruins Johnny Juzang made the 1st two baskets in overtime and Michigan State folded.
The Spartans must now sit and watch their arch-rival Michigan Wolverines take their number 1 seed into a matchup with the 16th seeded Texas Southern Tigers. The Tigers defeated Mount St. Mary’s 62-50 to earn their bracket ranking. Game time is 3:00 pm Saturday.