After fifth-seeded Michigan State entered the half up 12 against the twelfth seeded New Mexico State Aggies, it appeared that the Spartans were ready to coast and save their legs for the winner of Maryland-Houston.
New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies wasn't having any of that, though.
After trying to inspire his team late in the first half by drawing a technical, Menzies went back to what has worked for him throughout his entire career, which has included stops as an assistant for Rick Pitino, Lon Kruger and Henry Bibby.
He told his team that he was Elvin from the Cosby Show.
Given his distinct resemblence, Menzies has been able to pull of the trick throughout the years, sometimes using the "I went to Princeton so I'm smart" aspect of the character and sometimes using the hardcore chauvinistic personality that Elvin used so ineffectively in early episodes. Tonight, though, he tried something different. He used motivation and name-dropping.
"When I decided I was going to open that shop in Brooklyn and stop going to medical school," Menzies told his team, "Dr. Huxtabull told me that it wasn't about money or making anyone happy but myself. He told me to look inside. I urge you to do the same, gentlemen."
And, with that, the Aggies took to the court in the second half and unleashed a new inside-out attack, feeding the ball to Hamidu Rahman and Troy Gillenwater. All of a sudden, that 12-point lead became only two at the 15:00 mark. Then, five minutes later, the Aggies had a one-point lead and the back-and-forth tussle between the two teams would begin.
It was basketball in it's most exciting form. Two teams with their post-season lives on the line, dueling each other with baskets and pushing their teammates for defensive stops. We were destined for a great finish capped by a basketball play and not an officiating call, right? Right?
With Michigan State seemingly in control, up four, with only 24 seconds remaining, New Mexico State grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Gillenwater, who drained a three. The lead was now 1 with 24 seconds to play.
On the ensuing Spartan possession, Gillenwater fouled Raymar Morgan, a 65% free throw shooter. Morgan stepped up to the line and rattled home the first before missing the second, giving the Aggies one last shot, down two with six seconds left.
Or so they thought.
New Mexico State was called for a lane violation, which may or may not have actually happened, and Morgan got another shot. In typical fashion, he knocked it down. Down three with six seconds left, the Aggies missed two more attempts from downtown and Michigan State enjoyed a sigh of relief as they advanced to the round of 32.
Marvin Menzies? Well, let's just say he left that cool, collected Elvin character behind. New Mexico State's coach screamed at the officials, stomped around and , after briefly shaking hands with Tom Izzo and his kids, started up again. There weren't enough pudding pops in the world to calm down his emotion.
But, after the game, Menzies was again calm and fluttering between reality and fiction. When asked about why he was able to finally calm down, he danced around the answer for awhile before mentioning his wife and a "Claire", who he said taught him a good, wholesome lesson in his younger years. After much prodding, the NMSU SID provided CBSSports.com with this video, apparently showcasing Menzies' lesson learned.
Michigan State will face the winner of the Houston - Maryland game on Sunday. Marvin Menzies will resume to getting bossed around by Sonjia.