Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was so disgusted that he remained mostly silent in the locker room at halftime. He said he had no answers, so he listened instead.
Then Branden Dawson spoke up, and Keith Appling and Adreian Payne also talked. And the Spartans found their fire with little assistance from their spirited coach.
Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a rugged 59-56 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday night in Chicago.
Appling and Gary Harris finished with 13 points apiece for the Spartans (25-7), who trailed by 12 midway through the second half. They advance to play Ohio State in the next round in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship, won by Michigan State.
“At halftime, of all people, the most vocal guy in our locker room was Branden Dawson,” Izzo said, recalling the scene after a lackluster start. “He talked about the long road and not losing. Then Keith jumped in. I said very little. This was my time to say, ‘OK guys, I’m going to see if you’re going to take your team over a little bit.’ And we did.”
Iowa (21-12) was oh so close to an upset victory that could have cemented a spot in the field for next week’s NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Hawkeyes will have to sweat out a nervous Selection Sunday.
“Yeah, I think we deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament,” senior guard Eric May said. “I’m really proud of my team. We’re a good team and we fought all season long. Wherever we’re playing, we’re going to play our tails off next week wherever we’re playing.”
No. 3 Indiana 80, Illinois 64
Cody Zeller scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Indiana past Illinois in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
The top-seeded Hoosiers (27-5) are off to a good start after claiming their first outright conference title in two decades and earning a first-round bye.
No. 22 Wisconsin 68,
No. 6 Michigan 59
Ben Brust scored 11 of his
14 points in the second half and Wisconsin knocked off Michigan. The Badgers will play top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals today.
Traevon Jackson had 16 points for the Badgers (22-10).
Trey Burke had 19 points and seven assists for Michigan (26-7), but the Big Ten player of the year was 8 for 22 from the field. Tim Hardaway Jr. shook off a leg injury in the first half and finished with
14 points and nine boards.