The USC Trojans' wild late-season ride has ended with a hard-fought 74-69 loss against the Michigan State Spartans in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Trojans' struggles in the month of February have been well documented, going 1-6 while looking like their NCAA Tournament bubble had burst, but the team came together in March, winning six-straight games and capturing the Pac-10 Tournament Championship.
The excitement continued into the NCAA Tournament where the Men of Troy put together an impressive 17-point victory over the seventh-seeded Boston College Eagles on Friday. In the win, forward Taj Gibson was a perfect 10-for-10 shooting from the field, but the big man never got on track Sunday and the magic finally ran out.
The Trojans' battled the whole game and gave the second-seeded Spartans all that they could handle, behind the smooth play of freshman DeMar DeRozan and grit of point guard Daniel Hackett.
DeRozan had 18 points and 5 rebounds, Daniel Hackett added 13 points and Dwight Lewis led all scorers with 19.
Gibson, who was the hero on Friday, managed to score just 3 points and didn’t have a single rebound before fouling out with 4:36 left in the game. He did contribute on the defensive end with five blocked shots.
Leonard Washington had 10 points and seven rebounds, but like Gibson, he watched a good portion of the second half from the bench with four fouls.
Gibson and Washington only played 24 and 23 minutes respectively.
For the Spartans, 6-foot-2 guard Travis Walton came up big with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The senior guard who averaged just 4.9 points on the year, picked the ideal time for his best offensive output of his career.
After a Dwight Lewis free throw tied the game at 69 with 3:53 left, Walton made a jump shot that proved to be the difference in the game.
Guard Durrell Summer gave the Spartans a spark off the bench, with 11 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Delvon Roe and Kalin Lucas both added 10 points.
With the 74-69 win, the Spartans advance to the Sweet 16 where they will face No. 3 seed Kansas on Friday in Indianapolis.
USC finished the season 22-13 and set school records with three-straight 20 win seasons and three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
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