Ole Miss Falls to No. 1 Seed Spartans
March 14, 1999
By NANCY ARMOUR
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Battered, bruised, and more than just a little humbled, Michigan State's national title hopes are still intact. Just barely, though.
Mateen Cleaves scored seven points and had two assists as the top-seeded Spartans used a late 13-0 run to hold off feisty Mississippi 74-66 Sunday in the second round of the Midwest Regional. It was the 20th straight victory for the Spartans (31-4).
Cleaves, an All-American and two-time Big Ten MVP, finished with 18. Andre Hutson had 13 and Morris Peterson, making his fourth start of the year, had 11.
Jason Smith had 18 and Marcus Hicks 16 for the ninth-seeded Rebels (20-13), who got their first NCAA victory on Friday.
As the final seconds ticked down, the large contingent of Spartan fans started chanting "Sweet 16, Sweet 16." Michigan State will play Oklahoma next weekend in the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis.
The Sooners upset fifth-seeded University of North Carolina-Charlotte 85-72 earlier Sunday to become just the third 13th seed to advance to the round of 16.
Despite a decided size disadvantage, Mississippi gave Michigan State almost more than it could handle. The Rebels crashed the boards, hustled for every loose ball and their run-and-gun style seemed to frustrate the Spartans.
But after 5-5 Ryan Harrison drilled a 3-pointer over Cleaves to give Ole Miss a 59-56 lead with 4:54 left, Cleaves decided he'd had enough. He launched his own 3 to tie the game, and then scored on a layup to put the Spartans ahead 61-59 with 3:49 left.
He dished to Antonio Smith, and then came up with the biggest play of the game. With Ole Miss needing a basket to keep the game close, Cleaves tipped a Rebel pass and then sprinted downcourt for a layup.
After a Mississippi timeout, Cleaves fed Peterson. Two free throws from Granger completed the 13-0 run, and the Spartans were never challenged again.
The Spartans - feeling the pressure of the No. 1 seed, perhaps? - played most of the game tight and out-of-synch. Cleaves had five turnovers in the first half alone - one less than he had in the entire Big Ten tournament. Hutson and Granger each had three fouls before halftime.
And Mississippi took advantage. Jason Smith scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game as the Rebels jumped out to a 20-14 lead. But their fast pace soon took a toll. Smith was huffing and puffing and had to take a breather midway through the first half, and the Rebels went more than five minutes without a field goal.
The Spartans took a 27-26 lead, their first since the opening minutes, on a baseline jumper and 3-pointer from Granger. But Hicks dunked, and Michael White and Keith Carter each made a free throw as the Rebels took a 32-29 lead at halftime.
The Spartans opened the second half with a 13-4 run, fueled by Hutson's five points. But anytime the Spartans seemed to be on the verge of a game-breaking run, the scrappy Rebels found some way to come back.
Hicks scored five points to cut Michigan State's lead to 50-48 with 8:54
left, and Carter tied the game at 54 on a driving layup. Then Harrison
intercepted a Cleaves pass and dished to Smith, who drove, hesitated and then
put up the easy layup for a 56-54 lead with 5:50 left.
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