Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Michigan State withstood an early Oklahoma onslaught, then scratched and clawed itself to another Elite Eight.
Sounds familiar, right?
Travis Trice scored 24 points, Denzel Valentine netted 13 of his 18 points in the second half and the Spartans defeated the Sooners 62-58 in the East Regional semifinals on Friday night.
The Sooners began 8-of-11 from the field and raced out to an 18-8 start, but the Spartans clamped down defensively and held them to 27.3 percent (12-of-44) from the floor the rest of the way.
"Give them credit, but you have to give us some blame. I don't know why we didn't play with the same emotion, but the second half we played a lot better," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Michigan State, which didn't take its first lead until there was 7:30 remaining, reached its second straight Elite Eight and fourth since 2009.
Branden Dawson pulled down 11 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Spartans (25-11), who will face fourth-seeded Louisville Sunday afternoon in Syracuse for an opportunity to reach the Final Four.
Michigan State and Louisville will square off for the third time in the last seven NCAA Tournaments. The Spartans are in the final eight for the ninth time since Izzo became head coach in 1995. Only Kentucky has gone to more Elite Eights during that span.
Buddy Hield supplied 21 points and six boards, while TaShawn Thomas added 16 points and seven boards for No. 3 seed Oklahoma (24-10).
"Their defense definitely bothered us in the long run," Thomas said.
MSU began 3-of-10 from the foul line, but sunk all six of its attempts from the charity stripe to seal the win.
Dawson's fadeaway in the paint staked the Spartans to their first lead, 46-45, before Jordan Woodard found a cutting Thomas down the lane for a layup to put OU back in front.
The Spartans, though, responded with an 8-2 spurt to pull away for good.
Matt Costello followed his own miss and threw down a dunk and Valentine knocked down a right wing 3-pointer to put MSU up by four. After Ryan Spanger made a pair of foul shots, Trice capped the flurry with a left corner triple for a 54-49 Spartans cushion with 5:02 to go.
Hield nailed a right wing trey to claw the Sooners within 58-56 with 1:03 left. OU then played solid defense, forcing Trice to miss from deep. Costello wasn't able to tip in the misfire, but Valentine secured the offensive rebound and knocked down two foul shots for a 60-56 margin with 25 ticks on the clock.
Thomas' putback layup got the Sooners back within two, but Trice salted away the outcome with two more free throws.
Earlier, Hield hit a 3 and recorded a three-point play to help OU jump out to its 10-point spread.
Valentine and Bryn Forbes potted triples late in the opening half to trim the MSU deficit to 31-27 heading into the break. Neither team scored in the final 2:36 of the period.
The Spartans were also a seventh seed when they made an appearance in the Elite Eight in 2003 ... Izzo improved to 12-9 in the NCAA Tournament as a lower seed ... Oklahoma finished at a 36.4 percent clip (20-of-55) from the floor.