Minneapolis — Michigan State 74, USC 69
An unexpected scoring binge from the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year propelled Michigan State to a familiar place.
Travis Walton scored a career-high 18 points to lift the second-seeded Spartans to a victory over 10th-seeded USC in the Midwest Regional, putting Michigan State in the round of 16 for the eighth time in 12 years.
MSU (28-6) advanced to the regional semifinals more times in the last dozen years than any team besides Duke.
They’ll play third-seeded Kansas roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 6:07 p.m. Louisville-Arizona game on Friday in Indianapolis.
Dwight Lewis scored 19 points, and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for USC (22-13), which is starting to look like more than just a football school under coach Tim Floyd.
Raymar Morgan calls Michigan State’s backcourt of Walton and Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas “Fire and Ice,” with Lucas providing the heat on offense and Walton cooling down the opposing team’s top perimeter threat on the other end of the floor.
Walton hadn’t scored in double figures since he had 11 against Kansas on Jan. 10.