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Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Sports | By Jaime Goodwin

Ward leads Michigan State's furious rally past Miami


Walton became the first player to score at least 25 points, log at least 10 assists and five rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game since Dwyane Wade did so in 2003.

Two of those freshmen showed they could play any way they wanted in their NCAA Tournament debuts, leading the ninth-seeded Spartans (20-14) to an opening-round 78-58 win over No. 8 seed Miami on Friday night.

"You want to talk about maybe that one little extra step we needed, I know it was for me". Ward hurt the Hurricanes inside with 19 points while putting in his best defensive performance of his young career, fellow freshman Miles Bridges scored some of his 18 points with high-flying putback dunks and a pair of 3-pointers and Langford had 13. Guard Miles Bridges added 18 and guard Joshua Langford had 13. "It just took a while for us to get used to it. Coach has been stressing all year to focus for 40 minutes and we probably won't be able to have a lapse again like that in this tournament". "When we feed off of each other, we're hard to beat".

Ja'Quan Newton scored 16 for Miami (21-12) while Davon Reed added 12 and Bruce Brown scored 11. The Wolverines have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven seasons.

This time, the Spartans flipped the script.

Michigan State does not have the firepower to hang with the Jayhawks, so the Spartans will need to keep it low scoring and a slow-paced game.

When the Cowboys cut the MI lead to 88-86 with 10 seconds remaining, Walton Jr. calmly drained both to make it a four-point game.

Izzo pointed to the Spartans' rigorous schedule this season benefiting them now.

Mason, Josh Jackson, and Devonte' Graham are part of a Kansas team that is as balanced as any team in the country.

"Their defense really picked up", Miami coach Jim Larranaga. Forte, OSU's all-time 3-point shooter, finished while 12 points, while Hammonds scored 10 points with seven rebounds.

Oklahoma State shot 54.7 percent from the field and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, allowing it to counter punch just about every time MI made a run.

Five turnovers in the early stages of the run helped the Hurricanes start the game on a 10-0 run.

Seventh-seeded MI needed every point it could muster in a game that ended with a parade to the free-throw line, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a foe that refused to go away.

USC trailed SMU by 10 in the second half. "Once the momentum shifted from our side to their side we could never get it back".

After MSU committed its seventh turnover with 11:14 remaining in the first half, it played its best basketball of the year on both ends of the court the rest of the way. Miami beat Michigan State 67-59 on November 28, 2012, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Miami has lost three of its last four entering the tournament to fall to 21-11 on the season.

The clashing styles yielded a wildly entertaining game here on Friday afternoon, one of the most riveting so far in the NCAA tournament.

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