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N.C. State, Michigan State advance from NCAA Tournament, Nationwide Arena

Courtesy of MCT

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Several college basketball teams saw their NCAA Tournament runs end at Nationwide Arena in Columbus this past weekend. North Carolina State and Michigan State were able to stave off elimination, though, and advance to the Sweet 16. 

North Carolina State 66, Georgetown 63

Jason Clark had a chance.

The Georgetown senior guard had a shot from the right wing that could have sent the game between the No.3-seeded Hoyas and No.11-seed North Carolina State into overtime as time was expiring.

Clark missed, sending the Hoyas (24-9) home and the Wolfpack (24-8) into the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years on a 66-63 victory in the third round of the Midwest Region in the NCAA Tournament in Columbus.

“I felt like (the shot) had a chance. But it was off. We pushed the ball up the court, tried to get a last shot,” Clark said. “I felt like it had a chance, but it didn’t.”

N.C. State, led by sophomore forward C.J Leslie, junior forward Scott Wood and senior guard C.J Williams, who scored 14 points a piece, rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half with balanced scoring and a plethora of offensive rebounds on way to a win.

“I’m extremely proud of our team and these young guys. We came back, took the lead, and just how tough-minded they have become. It makes you feel very good as a coach, very proud of them,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.

Junior forward Hollis Thompson dropped 23 points for Georgetown. Clark added 10, while fellow Hoyas’ senior, center Henry Sims, only played 22 minutes due to foul trouble.

The first half was full of runs by both teams.

Georgetown got out to a 5-3 lead on a floater and a 3-pointer by freshman forward Otto Porter. The Hoyas followed that with a 6-2 run, but not before Sims picked up two fouls, both of which came driving into the lane.

Sims was forced to sit for the majority of the remainder of the half, but Georgetown was able to get out to a 25-15 lead with him on the bench, thanks to poor shooting by the Wolfpack and an array of 3-pointers by Clark, freshman forward Greg Whittington and freshman guard Jabril Trawick.

“We came out kind of slow. We weren’t up-tempo like we wanted to be,” Leslie said.

Around the seven-minute mark, Georgetown coach John Thompson III went with a lineup featuring four freshman and Clark, and N.C. State’s run followed shortly.

The Wolfpack outscored Georgetown 15-2 to end the half, with most of their points from inside the paint, and took a 30-27 lead into halftime after a steal and breakaway dunk by sophomore forward CJ Leslie.

“We got some fast breaks, got some easy buckets,” Gottfried said. “And then the game started to loosen up for us a little bit better.”

N.C. State continued to play tough inside as the second half began. Sims picked up his third foul around the 15-minute mark, and the Wolfpack extended their lead to 45-34 after a jumper went for junior center DeShawn Painter. N.C. State grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game.

Georgetown rallied with a flurry of buckets by Thompson.

With less than two minutes to go, Sims, with four fouls, hit a lay-up, his first points of the game, to cut N.C. State’s lead to three, 62-59.

After Wolfpack sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown missed the front-end of a one-an-one, Sims was fouled inside, and hit both free throws to make it 62-61. Wood, a 92 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, only hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled, and the Hoyas had a chance to tie the game, but Porter missed a contested jump shot from the base line.

Brown was fouled, and hit one of two free throws before Clark’s shot went wide. 

Michigan State 65, St. Louis 61

For the 10th time in his career, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is headed to the Sweet 16, but it didn’t come easy.

The top-seeded Spartans (29-7) outlasted No.9-seed Saint Louis (26-8) in a physical battle in the third round of the West Region of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus on Sunday, 65-61.

“I don’t know if you would believe this or not, but I thought to myself the game would go just like it went. I didn’t know who would win, but I told my guys I know what good a coach (SLU coach Rick Majerus) is,” Izzo said.

MSU senior forward Draymond Green came up big for the Spartan in the win, making play after play in the game’s final moments, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Spartan sophomore guard Keith Appling added 19 points, three assists and three rebounds.

“I think (Green)’s the best player in the country,” Majerus said. “If I had to take a kid right now to win the national championship, I’d take Draymond Green.”

The Billikens hung tough with the Spartans thanks in part to their defensive effort and the play of junior guard Kwamain Mitchell and senior forward Brian Conklin, who scored 13 and 11 points, respectively.

“We fought our guts out. (MSU)’s a terrific team. I don’t know that we could have played better,” Majerus said.

Physical defense dominated the game’s opening 20 minutes.

After back-and-forth scoring, SLU took a 15-11 lead on the Spartans after a 3-pointer by Billikens’ sophomore guard Jordair Jett.

It did not take MSU long to regain the lead.

The Spartans went on a 13-2 run, capped by a driving finger-roll layup in the lane by Green with just less than four minutes to play in the half.

Both teams had opportunities to score in the final minute, but the defenses held strong, and MSU took a 26-21 lead into half time.

Coming out of the half, SLU sophomore guard Mike McCall Jr. hit a 3-pointer to bring the Billikens within two, but MSU followed with a 15-8 run to go up, 41-32.

After Appling hit an open jump shot, one of the many SLU gave him, MSU went up 49-42 with just under seven minutes to play.

“All night they pretty much had me begging to shoot the ball. We got in the huddle in one of our timeouts, Draymond (Green) instilled some confidence in me, told me I was a 41 percent 3-point shooter last year, so shoot the ball,” Appling said.

Majerus said he was surprised by Appling’s ability to knock down open jump shots.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “I think with Appling, Izzo played it really smart, told him to shoot.”

Following Appling’s jumper, Billikens’ sophomore guard Jordair Jett hit a rainbow floater, and on the next possession, got fouled and hit both free throws to make it 49-46.

From there, the game went back-and-forth, with both teams scoring and hitting tough shots.

With fewer than three minutes to go, Green started to take over. He hit a tough, outside jump shot with 2:47 to play to put MSU up, 55-51. A little more than a minute later, Green drove to the bucket and found Appling wide open in the corner, which he drilled, giving MSU a 58-51 lead with 1:34 remaining in the game.

SLU made a couple more shots to keep MSU fans nervous, but the Spartans were able to hold on.

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