At one point, Michigan State had a 16 point lead in this contest, but as has become routine this year, they cannot make a basket down the stretch. This time was no different. Paul Davis led the Spartans with 16 points, Kelvin Torbert and Alan Anderson chipped in with 10 each. Jason Andreas finished his MSU career with 8 points.
When Paul Davis left the game with MSU holding an 11 point lead, the Wolfpack went on a 12-1 run to tie and eventually take a lead they would never relinquish. The Spartans went nearly six minutes without scoring until a desperation three pointer by Maurice Ager dropped.
By the time Davis came back into the game with just under five minutes left Michigan State was behind. Then Davis missed a tough inside shot and committed his fifth foul trying to set a screen.
"We were known as the team that bounced back, bounced back, bounced back all year and I think you have to get a lot of credit to [Nevada coach] Trent [Johnson] and his team," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
"We had them down a lot of bunch of times in that first half ready to make it a 16, 18 point game and to be honest we just didn't do some things that it takes to put teams away and when you don't team's with character come back and they did," he continued.
"We missed some big plays and some easier shots down the stretch. The game was lost because we didn't check. It was kind of a microcosm of the year. We didn't check, we gave up some shots at key times."
That was for all intents and purpose, the end of Michigan State's season. Adding insult to injury, prized recruit junior Eric Devendorf of Bay City Central, who was averaging 30 point per game, rescinded his committed to the Spartans and now plans on visiting other schools.
In reality, the loss to Nevada was a fitting end to a terrible season of basketball for Michigan State. The team that came into 2004 with a #3 ranking in the nation was a team with no identity and no clutch players. Michigan State struggled to compile an 18-12 record and get a bid to the NCAA tournament that in reality they never really earned.
Syracuse, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and even NIT bound Oklahoma and UCLA all whipped the Spartans, but somehow, coach Tom Izzo coaxed his team to four straight wins in the Big Ten and a chance at a Big Ten championship. But then the Spartans lost their fourth straight to Wisconsin to lose the championship and then again to the Badger in the Big Ten tournament semi-finals.
After getting a bid to the NCAA tournament, the Nevada Wolfpack players called out the Spartans and vowed to defeat them. Tom Izzo will have a long spring and summer of discontent as he tries to rebuild a MSU program that is clearly in disarray.
"In life you kind of get what you deserve," Izzo said, "and that team deserved to win and we didn't and my hand goes off to them." Izzo will have all off-season to try to figure out and correct what he hopes turns out to be an off year for the Spartans basketball program.