Drew Neitzel and Kalin Lucas were the Panthers' worst nightmare on Saturday night, as the two guards carried Michigan State to their seventh sweet 16 in 11 years, knocking off 4-seed Pittsburgh 65-54.
Neitzel scored 21 points and Lucas had 19, as the two combined to score 21 of the final 25 MSU points in the game, with each basket seeming bigger than the last.
MSU (27-8) led at half 30-28 and increased their lead to ten (38-28) with an 8-0 run to start the second.
Pitt (27-10) would storm back, taking a brief two-point lead, 44-42 with 9:39 to play, but Lucas would take control on the fast break, driving inside for a layup to tie it.
The Panthers would come within 47-46, but Neitzel sank one of his five three-pointers on the night to put MSU up by four with 6:28 to play. Neitzel would go on to score the next eight points.
While Pitt's free-throw shooting kept them close down the stretch, it was a pair of layups by Kalin Lucas that put the game out of reach at 59-52 with 1:55 remaining.
It was also Lucas who made one of the biggest defensive plays putting the game away, as guard Levance Fields drove inside, Lucas set his feet and drew the charge, giving MSU the ball back with 1:36 to play.
Fields led Pitt with 19 points and Sam Young scored 15, but the Panthers would struggle shooting, going 17-for-53 from the field.
MSU on the other side shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range, while dominating on the glass 33-20. MSU was also unselfish, getting 12 assists on baskets while Pitt had just four.
The Spartans played five players off the bench and used their depth to wear out the Panthers, who played just two players off the bench and relied heavily on their starting five.
With the Spartans looking for a strong post presence, Goran Suton stepped up with 14 points and fell just a rebound short of a double-double.
Raymar Morgan and Drew Naymick were plagued by foul trouble throughout the game, with Naymick still grabbing seven rebounds.
Michigan State will now travel to Houston next week to face either top-seeded Memphis or eighth-seeded Mississippi State on Friday night.
Neitzel and Lucas carry MSU into Sweet 16
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