Tom Izzo’s postgame comments following Michigan State’s Sweet 16 loss to Kansas State on Thursday are not sitting well with some March Madness fans.
When speaking to TBS reporter Allie LaForce following the Spartans’ thrilling 98-93 overtime loss to the Wildcats at Madison Square Garden, Izzo tipped his hat to Kansas State but remarked of “lucky plays” in the same breath.
“Give them credit. They banked in two shot-clock threes. They made some big plays but some of those plays weren’t big plays, they were lucky plays. I didn’t think we played our best. I think some of it was them, I think some of it was us, but boy, we bounced back in that second half,” Izzo said when asked about the final minute of the game.
With just under a minute to go in overtime, Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell launched the ball from center court and connected with teammate Keyontae Johnson for an epic alley-oop to give the Wildcats the edge.
Kansas State’s Ismael Massoud then hit a clutch two-point shot after a lengthy review over an out of bounds call with 15 seconds to go in overtime.
Nowell, the Wildcats’ fifth-year senior, then put the game away after stealing the ball from the Spartans in the final seconds for a layup.
In what was an unforgettable night from Nowell, the Harlem native recorded 19 assists – an NCAA Tournament record – and 20 points, including an incredible three-pointer on a hobbled ankle.
“I wasn’t going to let an ankle injury stop me from advancing to the Elite Eight. … I’m from New York City. I’m tough,” Nowell said postgame.
While some took to social media afterward to celebrate Kansas State’s Elite Eight berth, others dissected Izzo’s words.
“Bad look for Izzo. 1 or 2 plays don’t define a game. You got beat bud,” one user tweeted.
Another remarked, “Wow, bringing that backhanded compliment from the left shoulder.”
Despite the heartbreaking end to the Spartans’ March Madness run, Izzo lauded his team’s effort.
“I’ve been part of a lot of wins, I’ve been part of a lot of losses, tough losses, but I’ve never been prouder of a team because we really didn’t have it tonight, and yet, we still found a way to battle back, and I was proud of our guys,” said Izzo, whose team advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over USC and Marquette.
No. 3 seed Kansas State will next face No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic on Saturday following the Owls’ 62-55 win over Tennessee on Thursday.
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