Columbia vs. Michigan State Game Recap: Lions Lose, But Show Pride

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Columbia almost pulled off the upset of the season late Friday night. The Ivy League team picked to finish 7th in the conference, and who hadn't beaten a ranked team since 1976 pushed the likely No. 1-ranked Michigan State Spartans to the brink, before allowing them back into the game.

Let down game? Let down game!?! No, not a let down game.

Well, maybe this was a let down game for the Izzone faithful. Can you blame the team for looking a little bit past Columbia, a team that hadn't beaten a ranked team since 1976, when they had just taken down the No. 1 team in the country just days earlier?

You can blame them. This is just saying that it is understandable if they didn't play up to snuff.

And that translates into only a 62-53 win for Michigan State late Friday night, in a game that was much closer than the final score would lead you to believe.

Here are the effects of the let down game, also known as Cloudusmindus Lowerexpectationus: zero 3-point shots made, just 35 percent shooting in the first half, and a team whose pace was reduced to an even slower crawl than normal.

That is what Columbia managed to pull Friday night, a night when the Izzone crowd may have been the quietest that any Big Ten fan had ever heard. That is what this ragtag bunch of Lions did to what will likely be the new No. 1 team in the country.

They used every possession to its fullest, looking for the hole in the Michigan State zone and either driving or hitting an open shot. They played smart, and frustrated the Spartans with the way they avoided making mistakes that would normally be expected from an overmatched team.

Well, that is true except for the final three minutes of the game.

Never had anyone see a team have brain lock as the Lions did. On two straight possession, when Columbia still had a chance to push the Spartans and keep the heat turned up, they failed spectacularly.

No, it wasn't a wayward shot, or an ill-advised pass. They just let the shot clock run out. Twice. In a row.

And then Isaac Cohen missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and then there was a traveling call. And then, and then, and then.

Here was a team that just imploded under the pressure in the final minutes, when they had fought so valiantly the entire game. This was a team whose best scorers didn't log a point until the second half, and yet were beating the best team in the country.

But this was how it all fell apart: mistakes by guys with higher SAT scores and IQs than half of those in attendance.

There will be those who say the refs game the game to Michigan State. There were a few questionable calls, but Columbia was having difficulty dealing with the transition game of the Spartans. They were racking up the fouls long before the refs played any part in this one. And the few calls that did go against the Lions were not the ultimate killers.

These Lions deserve a lot of credit though for hanging as long as they did. Guys like Maodo Lo, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range, good for all of his points. Or even Cory Osetkowski, who banged in the middle with Michigan State's All-American forwards -- and actually challenged them.

For a brief moment, these Lions -- and a lot of shocked fans and writers around the country -- believed that this was possible. Until it wasn't.

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