The two teams battled it out quite evenly in the first half, as MSU held just a 32-29 lead at the break. In the second half, the game was all Spartans as a defense that was toughened by a difficult Big Ten schedule was able to hold the Tigers to just 19 points in the second half.
Michigan State scored 38 points in the final period and turned a three-point lead into a 22-point victory. Freshman guard Gary Harris led the way for MSU with 16 of his career high 23 points scored in the first half.
Spartans head coach Tom Izzo has managed to guide his team to the Sweet Sixteen for the 5th time in the last six years and the 11th time overall in his career.
Memphis, which won 30 games in the regular season will now have to head home listening to the whispers about how they didn’t deserve such a high seeding and that their record was in large part aided by a weak Conference USA slate.
The Spartans dominated the Tigers on the boards, one of the main reasons they were able to get the victory. MSU’s top two post players, Adrein Payne and Derrick Nix combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds.
This was the first time in four appearances that Josh Pastner’s Memphis Tigers had actually advanced to the second round of the tourney. Memphis had reached the round of 32 by squeaking by 11th seeded St. Mary’s/
The Spartans had a rough first round game as well, getting all they could handle from Valparaiso before finally managing to put that team away.
Michigan State will next take on the winners of the Duke-Creighton game on next Friday in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.