SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was a rough, physical game. It had a big comeback. It had a controversial ending.
But, as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said multiple times afterwards, the NCAA tournament is only about survival, which is what his Spartans did in a 70-67 win over a New Mexico State team that would not, to borrow a term from Aggies outspoken guard Jahmar Young, "bow down."
Young, who made news before the game when he replied,"Who?" when asked about Michigan State's two-time first-team All-Big Ten point guard Kalin Lucas, said after the game he thought the officials jobbed his team.
Many Aggies fans shared his feelings, particularly over a lane violation call that gave Raymar Morgan a second chance on a free throw to extend the Spartans lead to three points with :18.6 seconds left.
Morgan connected on the do-over, and that proved the winning margin.
Aggies coach Marvin Menzies was a bit more diplomatic afterwards, but his feelings were fairly clear, too.
"It was one of those calls you wish could have gone uncalled," he said.
He was asked if it changed the game.
"How it affected the game? Hard to tell," he said. "If we only needed two, we would have had a much different approach."
There was also a bit of controversy on the final possession, when the ball touched the ground out-of-bounds with what appeared to be 0.6 seconds left. The Aggies, however, were left with just 0.3 on the clock, making a potential game-tying 3 basically impossible. The officials chose not to review the sequence at the courtside monitors.
Regardless, Menzies was proud of his team's fight. Izzo wasn't too thrilled with the physical play, which he said he warned his team to expect before and during the game.
He went to great lengths, however, to praise his team.
"In some ways I saw my team grow up before my eyes," he said.
Of course, he liked the first half much better. The Spartans dominated and took a 42-29 lead into the locker room. Izzo said it might have been his team's best half of the year.
But the Aggies charged out in the second half, using a 13-2 run to overcome the deficit.
From then on, it was a tight, chippy, physical affair with lots of extra contact in the lane and plenty of trash talk.
Izzo's team survived, yes. But it's clearly beat up going forward. Guard Chris Allen hurt his ankle late, while Lucas also tweaked his ankle.
Those might be issues going forward.