Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) reacts with Michigan State Spartans forward Alex Gauna (2) during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Tournament 2014 Sweet 16: Michigan State holds off Virgina to advance to Elite 8

The Michigan State Spartans took a 31-27 lead into halftime, but saw their four-point lead turn into a four-point deficit after the first six minutes of the second half as the Spartans could not buy a bucket with the exception of Brenden Dawson who was simply marvelous.

Dawson, a junior from Gary, Indiana, led all scorers with 24 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Spartans to the Elite 8 with a nail-biting 61-59 win over the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers. This marks the eighth appearance in the Elite 8 for Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.

Adreian Payne added 16 points and six rebounds and was incredibly clutch down the stretch as Gary Harris, Keith Appling and the rest of the team had difficulty scoring against the Cavaliers defense. He put the team on his back and showed he had ice water in his veins from the free-throw line, sinking all four of his attempts.

Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon led the charge for Virginia as they scored 34 total points, respectively, but it came on 10-28 shooting as their remarkable season comes to an end in the Sweet 16. The ACC champs are the second No. 1 seed to go down after Wichita State lost to Kentucky in the round of 32.

The Spartans play at No. 7 Connecticut Huskies on CBS at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday for the opportunity to be in the Final Four. The Huskies were led by DeAndre Daniels and All-American guard Shabazz Napier in their five-point win over the Iowa State Cyclones.

Tags: 2014 NCAA Tournament March Madness 2014 Michigan State Spartans Tom Izzo Virginia Cavaliers

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