Michigan State sneaks past Virginia to reach Elite Eight
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Branden Dawson had 24 points, Adreian Payne scored 16 and Michigan State fought through Virginia's tenacious defense to advance to the Elite Eight with a 61-59 win over the Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden.
Dawson added 10 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Spartans (29-8), who will face Connecticut in the East Regional final on Sunday. The Huskies topped Iowa State, 81-76, earlier on Friday.
Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points apiece for top-seeded Virginia (30-7).
Michigan State was 0-for-7 from the floor to begin the second half and the Cavaliers capitalized by going on a 9-1 run. Two Brogdon free throws capped the frame-opening burst for a 36-32 Virginia lead.
"I thought the start of the second half, I think we had five turnovers in the first six, seven minutes," said Spartans head coach Tom Izzo. "They looked like they were really running. They were cranking that offense up."
But the Spartans moved back ahead when Travis Trice broke a 40-40 tie by draining a 3-pointer in transition with 9:09 remaining.
Virginia managed to erase a seven-point deficit and pull even at 51-51 on Justin Anderson's trey from the left corner with 1:49 left. However, the Cavaliers couldn't regain the lead.
Brogdon buried a 3-pointer from near the top of the key to make it 60-59 with 1.4 seconds remaining. Gary Harris then made his first free throw before missing the second attempt on purpose.
Anderson grabbed the rebound, but his desperation heave was short.
"When you're in a game like this, with this much at stake at this level, plays have to be made, whether it's big shots hit or just a big block or something. They did that. We had a little trouble down the stretch doing that," said Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett.
Virginia was bidding to set a school record with a 31st win and seeking its first trip to the Elite Eight in 19 years.
Michigan State is among the final eight for the first time since 2010.
A Dawson dunk put the Spartans up 21-11 just past the midway point of the first half. The Cavaliers then put together a 12-0 run after Michigan State grabbed its second 10-point lead, and an Anthony Gill layup concluded the surge, making it 25-23 with 3:29 left.
The Spartans led 31-27 at halftime.
Gary Harris became the 45th player in Michigan State history to score 1,000 points. He now has 1,003 in his career ... The Spartans improved to 4-0 against Virginia ... Michigan State shot 44.7 percent and held Virginia to 35.1 percent shooting.
03/29 01:56:27 ET