Is there something in the water around East Lansing lately?
For what seems like the umpteenth time this season for the Michigan State Spartans, basketball and football included, it came down to the final seconds. It felt as if head coach Tom Izzo and his squad had taken note while watching the Spartans’ overtime win over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl and decided, “Hey, that looks pretty fun. Let’s give that a shot”.
Only problem was, save for one-tenth of a second on the game clock, No. 11 Michigan State (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten) may not have walked away with a 63-60 overtime win in Madison against a tough No. 19 Wisconsin (12-4, 1-2) team. With less than a second left in OT, the Badgers’ Ryan Evans set back behind the line and nailed what appeared to be a game-tying three-pointer with only a tenth of a second left on the clock.
The Wisconsin crowd, which had already began to shuffle out of the arena after victory seemed out of reach, exploded as officials on the court called the shot good to tie the game at 63 apiece.
Upon further review though, only the clock back in the stands had a tenth-of-a-second remaining as the ball left Ryan’s hands. The shot clock behind the backboard, however, had expired with the ball still in Ryan’s hands upon official’s examination of the replay, and thus, yet another nail-biting, last-moment win for the Spartans was etched into the record books with Ryan’s shot declared no good.
Coach Tom Izzo told the media immediately following the game that he wasn’t positive what happened at the end of the game for his team, but he also didn’t quite care too much either.
“I don’t know what happened at the end,” Izzo said. “Nor do I care. I thought we played well enough and earned the win, and that’s the way I’m going to look at it.”
Michigan State, for all their accomplishments and accolades over the past decade, had not gained a victory at the Kohl Center in Wisconsin since 2001 (Izzo was 0-8 all time on the road against Badger’s coach Bo Ryan). That’s before the days of former stars Kalin Lucas and Drew Neitzel. That’s also another 10-year old stat that has been haunting MSU now erased.
Wisconsin has one of the best defenses in the country and key players for the Spartans, including sophomore Keith Appling, who gave his team the edge every time the Badgers surged close near the end, knew it wa going to be a game to remember.
“Everybody was kind of just waiting for the refs to give the signal,” Appling said. “There (weren’t) really too many words said, other than us just looking at the refs trying to figure out if we were going to another overtime — or did we win?”
Draymond Green, who scored a team-high 18 points for Michigan State, was fouled and set up to shoot a couple of free throws with a three-point lead and ten seconds remaining in overtime. If he made either basket, the game was more than likely over. Instead, Green, in very “un-Green-like” form, missed both shots. He knew that if the shot stood and Wisconsin tied the game at 63 resulting in a second overtime, that the responsibility might fall solely on him.
“The feeling for me was awful, but the feeling in the huddle was great because the guys, everybody picked me up — ‘Dray, no matter what, we’re still going to win this game,’ ” said Green. “They didn’t let me be down on myself, although I was. Everybody snatching me, grabbing my jersey, ‘Hey, are you OK? If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be in this position anyway.’ That was real comforting.”
It wasn’t lost on head coach Tom Izzo that it happened to be the Wisconsin that the Spartans were looking for an overtime win against on Tuesday night. The MSU football team shared two unbelievable match ups this season against the Badgers that both came down to the wire and had fans chomping at the bit. The now-legendary Hail Mary win during the regular season and the heart-breaking loss in the first ever Big Ten Title game will go down as some of the two team’s best games in recent memory.
And now, you can add another buzzer-beater, compliments of Izzo and squad, to that list.
“I told the team at the beginning, this is a Michigan State-Wisconsin game,” Izzo said. “In football and basketball, the first overtime is just the way it’s supposed to be.”
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.