MSU falls in first-four matchup with UCLA, 86-80 in OT


WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA – MARCH 18: Cody Riley #2 of the UCLA Bruins finishes a dunk against the Michigan State Spartans during overtime in the First Four game prior to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLNS) – In a matter of two and a half hours Michigan State’s basketball team summed up its entire season with its 86-80 overtime loss to UCLA at Mackey Arena on Thursday night.

“Just disappointed,” said Tom Izzo. “You know we made some of the same mistakes we made two or three times this year in critical situations.”

One of those critical situations happened right before halftime. The Spartans appeared to be in total control with their 11-point lead, which would have been even larger had Gabe Brown not blown a defensive assignment on Jaime Jaquez Jr., allowing him to hit a jumper at the buzzer at the half.

“You know we made a couple of mistakes,” added Izzo. “Right before the half we were supposed to switch and we didn’t switch, and they hit a shot. Those things — you don’t have many margin for error when you’re a good basketball team, which we are.”

It ignited the Bruins in the second and they’d not only score the last five points of regulation to force overtime, but they started the extra period by scoring the first four points. In total, UCLA outscored the Spartans 53-36 between the second half and overtime after trailing by as many as 14 points. It’s their largest comeback this season.

“We said all along our margin for error is very slim,” said Izzo. “Yet, I say that, when our first half and part of the second I thought we moved the ball so well and really played, really good basketball.”

Aaron Henry led MSU with 18 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. While Joshua Langford added 12 points and seven rebounds, though he missed a free throw in overtime and another shot in the final seconds.

“We didn’t make plays down the stretch,” said Langford. “We missed some free throws. We missed a free throw cut out. That’s kind of been, you know, the story for us in a few losses and we knew that the margin of error for us is very slim. So those small mistakes, we knew we couldn’t have those and we still had them.”

Right before the end of the Spartans’ postgame press conference Langford said this would be his last college basketball game with Michigan State, ending his five-year run in East Lansing.

With the NCAA granting every college basketball player this season an extra year of eligibility there were talks Langford may come back for a sixth year, but now those talks can be put to bed.

As for the rest of Michigan State’s basketball team, it’s on to the summer.

MSU finishes the year with a 15-13 record.

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