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Michigan State pulls away from Memphis and into Sweet 16

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Don't go against Tom Izzo.

It's my top rule in filling out my bracket, and this one was even easier than usual because the Michigan State Spartans were playing a Memphis team that hadn't proven itself all season.

Izzo has been saying all season that one of the primary reasons why he likes this team is because he has two frontcourt players who can score in the post and control the glass. Well, that was the difference as the Spartans made their way to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

Adreian Payne scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds and Derrick Nix added 13 points and eight boards -- and Michigan State dominated on the boards, 49-29. Freshman Gary Harris actually led the Spartans with 23 points in the 70-48 victory.

The margin was just three points at the break, but Michigan State pulled away in the second half with Payne coming up with key buckets and defensive stops.

Memphis hadn't beaten an at-large NCAA tourney team all season long, and knocked off a Saint Mary's club that beat Middle Tennessee in the First Four. However, the Tigers were overwhelmed against Michigan State -- despite the fact that Spartans point guard Keith Appling spent the last part of the second half on the sidelines nursing a shoulder injury.

Michigan State now advances to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis where it will face the winner of Sunday's Duke-Creighton matchup.

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