Nix double double powers Spartans over Valpo

No. 3 seed Michigan State overcame a cold start in the second round of the NCAA tournament to handle the No. 14 seed Valparaiso by a final score of 65-54 Derrick Nix proved unstoppable inside to lead all scorers with 23 points and 15 rebounds.

Auburn HILLS, Mich. -- The first time Derrick Nix touched the ball for Michigan State Thursday afternoon, Valparaiso came with a quick double team in the post. On a day Nix scored 23 points while collecting 15 rebounds, neither single nor double coverage from the Crusaders stopped the senior from Detroit, Michigan as the Spartans went on to win (BLANK) to advance to the round of 32 this Saturday.

Neither team started off hot from the field as both Michigan State and Valparaiso shot a combined 4-for-14 over the first 4:42 of play.

The Spartans would break that trend and find a rhythm midway through the first half, going on a 10-2 run triggered by three pointers from freshman Gary Harris and sophomore Travis Trice, finished off by a Brandon Dawson alley oop dunk with 9:25 left, forcing a Crusader timeout with Michigan State leading 18-10.

Michigan State would never relinquish that lead. The Spartans went on a 21-4 run holding Valparaiso without a field goal in nearly eight minutes of play beginning at the 10:14 mark.

Nix continued to be a problem inside for the Crusaders, totaling 7 points and four rebounds with 3:57 left to play in the first half.

After leading by as many as 20 points, Valparaiso knocked down two three pointers in the closing minutes of the first half, closing the Spartans lead to 35-18 after 20 minutes of play.

In the second half, Michigan State went right back into the paint as Nix continued to finish around the basket, quickly reaching a double double at 17 points and 11 rebounds with 12:33 left in the game as Michigan State opened up a 49-27 lead.

Keith Appling knocked down two three point tries to give him 15 points on the afternoon shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

Michigan State's largest lead of the game was 27 points at the 14:14 mark as they lead 49-22.

The Spartans emptied the bench late against the Crusaders as Valparaiso went on a 12-4 run to end the game.

Michigan State won by a final score of 65-54. Nix finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds to pace the Spartans. Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawson added seven points apiece while Harris tallied 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Michigan State advances to Saturday's round of 32-contest set to take on the winner of Memphis and St. Mary's.


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