No one would confuse the first 20 minutes of basketball played by Michigan State and Syracuse on Sunday for anything close to a shootout, but even in a defensive struggle, an offensive highlight was still able to emerge.
The Spartans were tied with the Orange at 22-22 in the closing seconds of the half when Michigan State ran a play for a Matt McQuaid three-pointer from the corner. McQuaid’s first effort was blocked on the closeout from a Syracuse defender, but McQuaid would not be deterred, catching the blocked shot and firing it back at the basket all in one motion before the buzzer for one of the craziest plays of this year’s tournament.
It’s a sensational display of coordination from McQuaid who had the presence of mind to understand the situation and know there was just enough time to heave it back to the hoop. That three is McQuaid’s only bucket of the first half, but it came at a timely moment and will be one that gets replayed over and over, especially if the Spartans can pull off the win.
The Spartans have not had much success against the Syracuse zone to this point, shooting a dismal 28.8 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from three. All but nine of their 28 shots have been threes as they’ve been unable to break down the zone, but it’s possible they can carry some momentum from McQuaid’s three to the second half and pull away from the 11-seed.