| The Detroit News
Indianapolis — For a moment on Thursday, Michigan State looked like it would ride its late-season momentum right into the postseason.
But as quickly as the Spartans built a double-digit lead against Maryland in the Big Ten tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium, it evaporated in a flurry of missed shots, fouls and frustration.
Maryland outscored Michigan State 23-7 to close the first half then continued to pour it on in the second, cruising to a 68-57 victory to advance to take on top-seeded Michigan Friday in the tournament quarterfinals.
The Spartans (15-12) must now wait until Sunday to see if their late-season surge was enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament. Winning five of the final seven likely did the job, but a win Thursday would have eliminated any doubt while getting blown out could infuse a bit of doubt over the next few days.
Michigan State started well offensively, opening up a 12-point lead in the first 10 minutes, but it quickly deteriorated. The Spartans made one of their final nine shots in the first half then opened the second 2-for-17. They finished 22-for-53, including 4-for-16 from 3-point range with 18 turnovers.
Malik Hall scored a career-high 19 points while Aaron Henry scored 12 but was just 5-for-12 shooting and turned the ball over six times.
Maryland (16-12) likely locked up its spot in the NCAA Tournament, going 15-for-16 from the free-throw line in the first half then putting it away in the second. Eric Ayala scored 21, going 10-for-11 from the line, while Aaron Wiggins added 19 for the Terrapins.
Michigan State was in control early, moving the ball on offense and getting every shot it wanted, using a 13-2 run to take a 17-6 lead a little more than six minutes into the game. After Joey Hauser scored a pair of buckets around a Langford layup, the lead grew to 23-11.
That’s when things started to go the wrong direction for the Spartans as the fouls piled up and Maryland started chipping away at the free-throw line. A 16-3 run by the Terrapins included two free throws on an Izzo technical and was capped by one of five Maryland 3-pointers, giving the Terps a 27-26 lead.
After Michigan State pulled back in front, 30-29, the Terrapins got two more free throws then took advantage of an MSU offensive foul and Ayala hit another triple at the buzzer to give Maryland a 34-30 lead at halftime, outscoring Michigan State 23-7 over the final 10 minutes.
Michigan State only made one basket and had seven turnovers in the final 10 minutes of the half the missed its first eight shots of the second half as Maryland pushed its lead to 40-30 in the first three minutes.
The Spartans got as close as 42-34 after a Marcus Bingham dunk, but a Maryland triple, a turnover and a layup for the Terrapins pushed the lead back to double digits and Michigan State was never able to get it any closer as Maryland poured it on in the final minutes.
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