Saint Louis made a strong second-half comeback, battling back from an 11-point deficit to cut it down to two, but top-seeded Michigan State held on for a 65-61 win over the No. 9 Billikens Sunday afternoon in NCAA Championship third-round action in Columbus, OH. Kwamain Mitchell led the Billikens (26-8) with 13 points, while Brian Conklin scored 11 and Jordair Jett added 10 to go with a game-high three steals. Jett and Dwayne Evans tied for team-high honors with six rebounds apiece. Michigan State’s Draymond Green posted 16 points and game highs of 13 rebounds and six assists. Keith Appling tallied a game-high 19 points for the Spartans (29-7).
The Billikens trailed 26-21 at halftime and faced an 11-point second-half deficit before rallying to trim the margin to two points twice. Trailing 45-34, the Billikens went on a 15-6 run that brought them to within a field goal. Jett made a baseline floater and two free throws, cutting the MSU lead to 49-46. Conklin answered a Spartan basket with a short turnaround bank shot, and a Jett free throw made it 51-49 with 4:03 to play.
Michigan State responded when Green hit a long two-point bucket, and, following a Billiken miss, Appling banged in a three-pointer to give Michigan State a 58-51 cushion.