TUCSON, Ariz. -- Steve Smith's jumper from the top of the circle as time expired Friday allowed No. 22 Michigan State to escape with a 60-58 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the score tied 58-58, Smith drove the basket as time was running down, stepped back and popped his jumper with less than a second left to save the Spartans from the possible upset.
Smith, a third-team All-America, scored Michigan State's final eight points as the Spartans battled back from a four-point deficit with five minutes remaining.
He first hit a three-pointer with 3:28 left to bring the Spartans within 56-55. Then after a twisting layup by Green Bay's Dean Vander Plas, Smith again hit from long rante with 2:10 left to tie it.
Both teams missed shots on their next possessions, and UWGB was given possession when Matt Steigenga's diving attempt at a loose ball ended with him and the ball over the end line.
But Tony Bennett, UWGB's leading scorer, missed a falling 10-foot jumper as the shot clock was winding down and Smith grabbed the rebound. Following a Michigan State timeout, the Spartans isolated Smith on the outside for the winning points.
Smith led the Spartans with 19 points, while Steigenga and Mike Peplowski added 12 each. Peplowski scored 10 of his points in the second half, as Michigan State was able to make use of its size advantage.
Vander Plas led the Fighting Phoenix with 17 points, including 12 in the second half. Dean Rondorf added 16 points, including 4 three- pointers, and Bennett finished with 9 points.
Wisconsin-Green Bay led 35-30 at halftime, but Michigan State ran of 14 of the first 18 points of the second half to take a 44-39 lead on a three-point play by Steigenga.
But the Phoenix rolled off a 12-2 burst over the next 5:34 to move to a 51-46 advantage on a John Martinez 18-footer with 9:14 left. The Spartans then closed the gap to 53-52 before Smith took over.
Rondorf scored 10 points and Wisconsin-Green Bay hit 8 three-pointers in the first half to race to a 35-30 halftime advantage.
The Phoenix hit eight straight shots late in the half, including 5 three-pointers, in a 22-8 scoring spree that carried UWGB to a 33-25 advantage with 2:07 remaining before intermission.
In addition, the Phoenix held Michigan State without a point for a span of 5:27 before Andy Penick broke the drought with a three-pointer with 1:03 remaining in the half.
After two Martinez free throws pushed the UWGB lead to 35-28, Smith hit a shake-and-bake 8-footer just before the halftime buzzer.