Mar 21, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Derrick Nix (25) shoots the ball in front of Valparaiso Crusaders forward Kevin Van Wijk (55) during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Michigan State Spartans-65 Valparaiso Crusaders-54

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Michigan State University- 65
Valparaiso Crusaders- 54

In a homecoming of sorts for Bryce Drew, since his improbable game winner in 1998 against Ole Miss, The Michigan State Spartans made sure there would be no end of game heroics possible. The suffocating defense that is a trademark of Tom Izzo’s Spartans was on full display in the 1st Half, holding the Crusaders 18 points on 23.1% shooting. Matt Kenney paced Valpo with 7 but Michigan State out rebounded them by 10. Thanks to balanced scoring, passing, rebounding, and experience by Michigan State, they ended the half on a 27-10 run to go up 35-18. Derrick Nix was the clear difference in the game as Valpo couldn’t stop him with a Mack truck. He led the Spartans in points (23) and rebounding (15), pulling more offensive rebounds (9) than the entire Valpo team (5). Valparaiso found a little life in the 2nd half behind Matt Kenney and Erik Buggs’ scoring and some thievery but that was nowhere near enough. It’s tough to overcome a 44-20 rebounding deficit. The score wasn’t indicative of the domination exerted by the Spartans Nix and Keith Appling with 15 and Gary Harris with 10.  Ben Boggs, Erik Buggs, and Matt Kenney led the Crusaders in scoring with 15, 14, and 10 respectively.  Michigan State will face either the Memphis Tigers or St. Mary’s Gaels on Saturday.

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