Rushed Reactions: #4 Michigan State 80, #12 Harvard 73Posted by Kenny Ocker on March 22nd, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion. Kenny Ocker is an RTC columnist and correspondent. He is covering the Spokane pods of the East and West regionals this week.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Any Michigan State starter *can* dominate — it just doesn’t mean they will. On Thursday night, Adreian Payne hung up 41 points. Tonight, Branden Dawson had 20 points and six rebounds in the first half. Dawson only had six in the second half, though, when his team’s offense started to completely fall apart. A consistent 40-minute performance was missing in this round of 32 game from everybody in green and white. Will that catch up with the Spartans as the competition toughens?
- The Spartans let a talented team back into the game. Giving up a 17-2 run to a lower seed never, ever bodes well for what’s to come, especially when that run lets said team come back and take the lead for the first time. It took a pair of quick whistles in the final minute for Michigan State to finally get the game in the bag here tonight. What was a good defensive performance was undone by lethargy. If I’m the next team that draws the Spartans, I’m not as concerned as I would have been before this weekend. As talented as they are, this team is still rather inconsistent.
- Harvard will likely never have a collection of this much talent again. Losing Laurent Rivard, Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry would be tough for any program to handle, much less one from the Ivy League. And that doesn’t include the possibility of forward Wesley Saunders leaving early for the NBA or coach Tommy Amaker taking a big-time college job again (especially the one that’s open just across town at Boston College). Crimson fans should enjoy the pair of NCAA Tournament wins they picked up in the past two years, because you never know when a run like this is bound to come to an end.
Star of the Game: Michigan State’s Gary Harris – 18 points, five assists and one clutch three-pointer when Harvard seemed to have clawed its way back into the game.
- “We have to know the score and time of the game. We have to get smart when we have the lead.” — Michigan State’s Harris, on the final shaky minutes.
- “It’s always a better learning experience when you win and do some things that will get their attention.” – Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, on teaching points he can derive from this game.
Sights and Sounds: Michigan State likes slapping the floor before big defensive possessions. If you do that, you better be good enough to back it up. … In regards to Harvard’s remix of Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out,” everything sucks … I’ll never get over how a team nicknamed the Crimson wears black … Fewer things are cooler than 8,000 people organically supporting an underdog on a massive rally. Shame it didn’t turn out for them.
What’s Next? Michigan State punched its ticket to Madison Square Garden in the Sweet Sixteen. Harvard’s players get Harvard degrees and will eventually run the world.