COLUMBUS, Ohio. (WLNS) – Michigan State overcame a first half slump against the University of Southern California on Friday to win 72-62 its first game of the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans came out of the gates flying and at one point held a 26-17 lead, but a cold spell and some lackadaisical defense allowed the Trojans to get back into the game.

It was 34-34 at half, but MSU started strong in the second half, took a 49-40 lead and were able to hang on from there.

The No. 7 seed Spartans were 2-point favorites over No. 10 seed USC and although MSU controlled the game most of the time, it never felt like the Trojans were totally out of it until the final whistle.

A big part of the win was Joey Hauser’s shooting. The power forward went 4-6 from 3-point range and had 17 points total.

In addition, the Spartans held star Trojans guard Boogie Ellis to just 6 points. The senior averaged 18 points per game in 2022-23.

The win Friday is the 20th of the season for Michigan State, and the Spartans will next play the winner of Marquette and Vermont. 

Michigan State’s next game is on Sunday in Columbus, which is just under a four-hour drive from Lansing, and according to Gas Buddy a mid-size SUV will cost you $77 in gas for a round trip.

Stay with 6 News as we have a team down in Columbus and will have wall-to-wall coverage of the entire MSU run.