Hammond: Magic at the Breslin both literally and figuratively - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Hammond: Magic at the Breslin both literally and figuratively

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Jennifer Hammond  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Jennifer Hammond (Credit: Fox 2 News)
EAST LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

It was Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Norton and Leonard versus Hagler all rolled into one Tuesday night in East Lansing.  The heavyweight battle between number one and number four at the Breslin -- and the fans dressed in white in the stands were hoping to see some blood.  This game had history on its side, being the first ever match up between two top five teams at the Breslin, that's the first in 307 games for those of you who are wondering.

The Spartans had a mission coming in -- grab control of a hotly contested battle for first place in the Big Ten, in addition to repaying the loss they suffered in Bloomington on January 27 to the Hoosiers. The tension and excitement was palpable from the opening tip, and you could feel the Spartans fighting their nerves early on as they played too fast at times and committed too many unforced errors.

That resulted in eight turnovers in the first half alone for the Spartans, something Tom Izzo would be sure to bring up with his team during the break.

But basketball is a funny game when the stakes are high and the home court is kind.   Gary Harris reminded us of that with his steal with 15:35 left -- cut it to 45-40 IU lead, and as quickly as it appeared a Spartan run was about to begin, Indiana squelched it with a strange foul call on Adrian Payne.

But the Spartans battled their way off the ropes and as they continued to grind, their confidence continued to grow and by the 13:23 mark, Branden Dawson took a pass from Keith Appling and gave the Spartans the lead, their first since the 14:45 mark in the first.  From there, Costello was a spark plug off the bench with big blocks that made for big highlights.

There was something in the air as the Hoosiers hit everything they heaved up, except a few free throws they could have used.  Payne was 3-3 from three point range and finished strong inside with several huge dunks.  And then there was Derrick Nix, who jumped and rebounded, sliced and scored, coming up with two offensive rebounds, a pair of layups and a steal in a critical :38 second stretch down the stretch.  It was a total team effort, but the Spartans fell just short.

Destiny may not have been shining on the Spartans Tuesday night, but this game more than exceeded the hype that preceded it and it would appear as if these two teams will meet again -- maybe in Chicago or further down the line in the Final Four, who knows?

But there was Magic in the building at the Breslin on Tuesday night, literally -- but more importantly, figuratively.

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