- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Some thoughts after third-seeded Michigan State knocked off No. 6 seed Memphis 70-48 in a round of 32 game in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Overview: This was a complete antithesis of style from the first game of the day in which Michigan run-and-gunned its way to the Sweet 16. Michigan State forced Memphis into a more plodding, sloppy, ugly game.
Exactly how the Spartans prefer to play.
If the Spartans can force an opponent to try to be tougher than them, Michigan State will usually win. That is exactly what happened to Memphis, which couldn’t get into its preferred style of athletic, running play.
Michigan State could play that way, but the Spartans were just fine controlling the pace and using their size to send themselves to the Sweet 16 again.
It didn’t come without some issues, as Michigan State had point guard Keith Appling leave the game due to an injury in the second half, but the Spartans were able to handle the game the rest of the way with a combination of Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice handling the ball.
Turning point: Valentine missed a 3-pointer in the corner, but Memphis missed the rebound, allowing the Spartans’ Adreian Payne to slip into the lane for a dunk. That forced Memphis coach Josh Pastner to call a timeout with the Spartans up 43-32. The margin would stay from 10 to 12 points for most of the rest of the game.
Key player: Payne can do it all and is a prototypical power forward in the NBA. In college, this means there's potential for dominance, which Memphis learned Saturday. The 6-foot-10 Dayton, Ohio, native showed off his freakish athleticism as a two-way player, blocking five shots and grabbing a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Key stat: 29.7 percent from the field. Memphis couldn’t get out and run like it normally does, forcing the Tigers to take more difficult, contested outside shots. It did not go well, as Memphis was 5-of-23 from behind the 3-point line and struggled to take advantage of any mistakes Michigan State made.
Next: Michigan State moves to the Sweet 16 -- its fifth in the past six seasons -- to face either No. 2 seed Duke or seventh-seeded Creighton in Indianapolis on Friday.