clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What We Learned: Michigan State Spartans vs Oklahoma Sooners

Michigan State pulled off the upset again and will advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight season.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans took on the Oklahoma Sooners on Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen. Michigan State was looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight season.

The Spartans didn't come out of the gates fast in this one and found themselves down by 10 in the first half. Michigan State fought back and was able to close the half out on a 6-0 run to go into the half only down 4. The second half was back and forth throughout. Neither team was able to create much separation. Denzel Valentine made the play of the game when he came down with a clutch offensive board after a missed tip shot from Matt Costello with just over 30 seconds to play. Oklahoma was forced to foul Valentine who made both of his free throws to extend the Spartans' lead to 4. Travis Trice also knocked down two clutch foul shots after an Oklahoma made layup to push the lead back to 4. Michigan State was able to close out the game and will be heading to their second straight Elite Eight appearance with their 62-58 win over Oklahoma.

What We Learned

Travis Trice continues to dominate in the NCAA Tournament

Trice has finished with 15 or more points in all three of the Spartans' tournament games. He contributed 24 points in the win over the Sooners in the Sweet Sixteen. He has been tremendous all season, but the senior has taken his game to another level during tournament play. If you were to pin the success of the Spartans' tournament run on one player it would be Trice. He has been the leader of this team throughout the tournament and has shown he can will his team to victory.

Denzel Valentine saves his best play for the second half

Valentine put up 13 second half points to sink the Sooners. He was able to knock down a couple clutch 3's in the second half to give the Spartans the edge just when they needed it. His biggest play was his clutch offensive rebound with only 32 seconds left to play. Without the rebound and the ensuing made free-throws, the Spartans might not have won this game. He was able to make big plays down the stretch to pull out the win in this one.

Michigan State can make clutch free-throws

The Spartans still aren't a good free-throw shooting team (56% against Oklahoma), but they were able to make the free-throws when they mattered most. Michigan State's inability to close teams out on the line has been well documented throughout the season, but on Friday night they were able to close out Oklahoma on the line. Travis Trice and Denzel Washington were a combined 6 for 6 at the foul line and sealed the victory for the Spartans.

You can never count out a Tom Izzo coached team

Michigan State didn't look like an Elite Eight team during much of conference play and lost to less than stellar Nebraska and Minnesota teams. Once again Izzo has pulled a rabbit out of his hat and has the Spartans back in the Elite Eight. You could've easily counted Michigan State out of this game as well. Oklahoma came out firing and Michigan State looked flat, but that didn't matter in the end. At the end of the day, Izzo rallied his troops and was able to pull off the upset. Did you expect anything different from these guys?


The Spartans showed their mental toughness by coming back in this one. They are now the lowest seeded team remaining in the tournament and will play the Louisville Cardinals at 2:20 ET on Sunday afternoon. It truly will be a miracle if Izzo can find a way to get this team to the Final Four, however they seem to be peaking at the right time and just might be a team of destiny. Don't be surprised if they pull off the upset on Sunday and find a way to punch their ticket to their 9th Final Four.