INDIANAPOLIS — Freshman Max Christie scored 16 points, Gabe Brown added 13 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead before holding off No. 10 seed Maryland 76-72 on Thursday night in the second round of the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Michigan State had a 20-point lead with 13:04 remaining after opening the second half on a 12-3 run. But the Spartans really struggled taking care of the ball late against Maryland’s full-court pressure.
Michigan State turned it over 11 times in the second half — seven in the final 2:26.
After Michigan State’s fourth straight possession with a turnover, Fatts Russell sank a 3-pointer to get Maryland within 68-65.
MSU’s Tyson Walker sank two free throws but after another turnover Russell completed a three-point play to cap a 12-2 run and make it 70-68. Walker answered with a jumper and Christie added two free throws with 31.1 seconds left.
Hart had a missed 3-pointer fall to his feet and he put it back to trail 74-70 and Michigan State was unsuccessful on an inbounds pass before Eric Ayala made a shot under the basket for 74-72.
An official review gave Maryland the ball back after another Michigan State turnover, but Russell was off on an open step-back 3-pointer and Christie was fouled and made two more free throws for a four-point lead with 6.6 left.
Michigan State (21-11) advances to play Big Ten player of the year Johnny Davis and No. 2 seed and 12th-ranked Wisconsin in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Spartans split the regular-season series with the Badgers, winning 86-74 at Wisconsin before dropping a 70-62 contest at home.
Maryland (15-17) was led by Russell with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Ayala finished with 17 points, Donta Scott added 15 and Hart 11.
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