Georgetown Hoyas forward Mikael Hopkins (3) shoots over Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)
NEW YORK (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - They took care of Kentucky in Chicago, Oklahoma in Brooklyn, and Texas, Indiana and Iowa in their home arenas.
The Michigan State Spartans are perfect away from home no longer, though, thanks to a Georgetown team that entered Madison Square Garden unranked with an 11-9 record.
The Hoyas improved to 12-9 and got an NCAA tournament resume victory today, 64-60, using 16 points from Markel Starks and team defense that had the No. 7 Spartans (19-3) out of sorts for much of the afternoon.
MSU got 20 points from Gary Harris, 17 in the second half, but he got going too late. And the Spartans had issues with turnovers, free throws and rebounding - certainly, MSU could have used Adreian Payne (foot sprain) and Branden Dawson (broken hand) to help with the latter.
MSU is hopeful Payne can return Thursday against Penn State, while Dawson may be back by the end of the month. The Spartans used their 12th starting lineup of the season today, with Alex Gauna starting at power forward.
MSU led, 30-29, after a mistake-filled first half for both teams. Georgetown was the team that came with energy to start the second - going up 40-32 with an 11-2 run.
The Hoyas were using their superior length to their advantage on both ends, going at MSU's guards for easy baskets and giving the Spartans nothing but deep jump shots out of their halfcourt offense.
It was 44-36 when MSU started to show some fight. Harris followed up a coast-to-coast dunk with a three-pointer to cut the lead to three. He got his fourth foul with 6:01 left, but he didn't sit long, and his triple with 4:02 left cut the lead to 50-48.
Moments later, Kenny Kaminski had a look at a tying three on a pass from Harris, but it rimmed out. It was 56-51 Georgetown when Harris hit a stepback three with 1:32 left.
MSU then forced a miss - but Jabril Trawick got a putback on a rough rebounding day for the Spartans. That would be the killer possession for the Spartans.
Contact Joe Rexrode: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @joerexrode. Check out his MSU blog at freep.com/heyjoe.