Senior guard Travis Trice scored a team-high 24 points to help lift the No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans to a 62-58 upset victory over the No. 3 seed Oklahoma Sooners in the East regional semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 27 in Syracuse, N.Y. The Spartans will advance to face No. 4 seed Louisville in the “Elite Eight” round on March 29.
Although technically it was an upset, many pundits weren’t surprised to see the lower-ranked Spartans knock off Oklahoma in the “Sweet 16.” That’s because Michigan State (26-11 overall record) has made a habit in recent years of clipping higher-ranked teams throughout the tournament—last year they knocked off No. 1 seed Virginia in the Sweet 16. Now the Spartans are headed to their second straight Elite Eight appearance, and fourth in seven years.
But Michigan State had to fight hard to earn its way pass Oklahoma. The Spartans trailed the entire first half and didn’t take a lead in the game until nine minutes into the second half. The Sooners fought back to retake the lead, but Michigan State was able to hold them off with clutch shots made down the stretch. Six of Trice’s 21 points was scored during the last two minutes of action, and junior forward Denzel Valentine also made several big shots in the end, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the second half.
Junior guard Buddy Hield led Oklahoma with 21 points, and senior forward TaShawn Thomas added 16 points for the Sooners.
Oklahoma ends its season with a 24-11 record.