NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Freshman Malik Hall hit a layup with 26 seconds to play and scored all 17 of his points in the second half as No. 3 Michigan State overcame a late five-point deficit and beat No. 12 Seton Hall 76-73 Thursday night in a wildly exciting contest worthy of March Madness.
Cassius Winston added two free throws with 3.4 seconds to play to push the lead to three points, and the Spartans (2-1) played tough defense on drives in the lane by Sandro Mamukelashvili and Myles Powell in the waning seconds. The Pirates eventually saw a desperation half-court heave by Powell bounce off the top of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Winston scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, playing his second game in less than a week after the death of his brother, Zachary.
Powell was remarkable, scoring 37 points in a game most felt he would miss because of an ankle injury. Myles Cale added 12 for the Pirates (2-1) in the Gavitt Tipoff game at the Prudential Center.
Trailing 66-62 after Winston hit a 3-pointer with 4:51 to play, Mamukelashvili hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 9-0 run that Powell ended with his fifth and sixth 3-pointers of the game to give Seton Hall a 71-66 lead with 2:41 to play.
Rocket Watts closed the gap to two points with a line-drive 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:44 to go and Winston, who picked up two early fouls, briefly put the Spartans back in front 72-71 with a 3-pointer with 1:02 left.
Powell, who played 34 minutes on what his coach described as a high ankle sprain he suffered last weekend, gave The Hall its last lead when he hit two free throws with 43 seconds to go.
Hall’s layup put Michigan State ahead 74-73. Mamukelashvili drove the lane and missed a shot on which the officials ignored contact. After Winston missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 14 seconds to go, Powell drove the lane, drew contact and didn’t get a call.
The game drew a crowd of 14,051, and the fans witnessed a contest with 14 lead changes, nine ties and neither team leading by more than seven points.
Hall, who didn’t score in the Spartans’ first two games, made all seven of his shots, including three 3-pointers. His only missed shots were two free throws with 3:39 to play.
For a game in early November, this had the feeling of a late-season showdown between rivals vying for a spot in the NCAA Tournament or even a tournament game. The crowd was electric from the moment Powell was introduced as a starter to every outstanding shot, block and lead change.
It was tough and physical, with officials for the most part letting them play, and the game was compelling from start to finish.
Michigan State: The superb Spartans should move up in the AP Top 25 with No. 1 Kentucky’s loss.
Seton Hall: The Pirates are a definite NCAA Tournament team for the fifth straight season.
Michigan State: Hosts Charleston Southern Monday night in an on-campus game in the Maui Invitational.
Seton Hall: At St. Louis on Sunday to face the 3-0 Billikens.