Michigan State basketball beat Bucknell, 82-78, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 16. The Spartans will take on the winner of No. 6 TCU and No 11 Syracuse on Sunday.
Here’s our live blog, with updates from the start of the game at the bottom:
Michigan State-Bucknell basketball score: Live updates, stats
Final: Michigan State 82, Bucknell 78. The Bison didn’t make things easy, electing to foul until the end, but Michigan State made its free throws after its lead shrunk from 10 points to 4. Full stats:
Michigan State 75, Bucknell 59, 2:14 left: MSU’s got this all wrapped up. Spartans can afford to ease off the gas in the final minutes.
Michigan State 68, Bucknell 54, 5:38 left: Bucknell’s Zach Thomas, the Patriot League Player of the Year, fouled out on a technical with six minutes left. That’s enormous.
Michigan State 63, Bucknell 48, 8:33 left: The Spartans are finally gaining distance, thanks in large part to Bucknell making all of one field goal so far this half. A Miles Bridges three gives him 21 points so far. This dunk wasn’t shabby either.
Oh BABY, Miles Bridges is NOT afraid of heights. pic.twitter.com/0opticNG7I
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 17, 2018
Michigan State 52, Bucknell 46, 15:08 left: Michigan State has yet to make the run fans are longing for, and the Bison keep hanging around. Nick Ward had a scary fall after going for a rebound, but appears to be okay.
Halftime: Michigan State 44, Bucknell 40: Welp, this has been a lot more of a game than Michigan State wanted. Miles Bridges has come alive and now has 10 points to join Langford’s 15, but Bucknell is still hanging around despite shooting 48 percent to MSU’s 60.
Michigan State 34, Bucknell 30, 3:03 left. Zach Thomas has 18 points for Bucknell, a team that is very much still in this game. Joshua Langford has 13 for MSU, while Miles Bridges has 4 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. isn’t on the board yet. That’ll need to change.
Michigan State 29, Bucknell 23, 07:55 left: Bucknell’s not conceding yet, and its ability to get to the foul line is a big reason why. The Bison are 5-for-6 from the stripe, while Michigan State has not yet attempted a free throw.
Michigan State 10, Bucknell 4, 15:46 left: Michigan State’s out to a quick lead on the strength of some interior scoring (Nick Ward with 4 points), while Bucknell is only 1-for-6 from the field.
Michigan State-Bucknell basketball: Time, game information
Michigan State and Bucknell play at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday, March 16.
- Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
- Date: Friday, March 16
- TV Channel: CBS
- Location: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
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Michigan State-Bucknell basketball preview
It’s hard to argue that Tom Izzo has had a more talented roster in his days as Michigan State’s coach, and the Spartans have backed up that belief by winning 29 games heading into the NCAA Tournament, but now is the time when the true test of the season begins. Several analysts and experts picked the Spartans to win the championship this season, and as a No. 3 seed they are definitely a contender.
The pressure will be on sophomore forward Miles Bridges, a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, classmates Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Joshua Langford and freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. to live up to all the expectations they’ve produced.
Don’t expect the Spartans to look past Bucknell (25-9), the champions of the Patriot League regular season and conference tournament. The Bison may be the No. 14 seed but it was only two years ago that No. 15 Middle Tennessee State ruined many brackets across the country with a 90-81 victory against the No. 2 Spartans in the first round. MTSU made 11 3-point shots in that upset win, and Bucknell is a similar team when it comes to shooting from deep.
It is averaging 81.1 points per game and shooting 34.3 percent from 3-point range. The Bison have attempted 784 3-point shots this season, which is 39.3 percent of their overall field goal attempts. They make an average of 7.9 from behind the arc each game, including 12 games reaching double figures. Senior forward Zach Thomas is averaging 20.3 points per game and making 37.3 percent of his 3-point shots. Thomas also averages 9.2 rebounds. Senior guard Steven Brown is averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 assists per game. He’s made 60 3-point shots.
Bucknell returns all five starters from last season when it gave West Virginia a scare in the first round before losing 86-80.
Izzo has said that Jackson, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, will draw the first assignment on Thomas. Michigan State is allowing just 64.8 points per game and opponents are making just 36.6 percent of their shots against the Spartans.
All five starters for the Spartans are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Bridges (16.9). Winston and Ward (12.6) follow, with Langford (11.7) and Jackson (11.3) close behind. Michigan State is outrebounding opponents by an average of more than 10 per game. Bucknell shouldn’t pose a threat in that area but 6-foot-10 senior center Nana Foulland is averaging 7.1 rebounds as well as 15.4 points per game.