No. 21 Michigan State figured there was only one way to overcome a 15-point deficit in the second half - let Steve Smith do it.
The Spartans passed Smith the ball whenever they could, then stood back and watched him play the leading role in a controversial 65-63 victory Thursday night over Cincinnati. It was the only game played by a ranked team.Smith put on a show that surely impressed the 19 NBA scouts there to watch him. He scored 22 of his 34 points in the second half on 8-of-9 shooting; he made five of his six 3-point shots after the intermission; and he was in position to rebound Mark Montgomery's missed shot for the winning layup at the buzzer.
Television replays indicated the ball was still in Smith's hand when the clock showed 0:00. But the officials huddled for a few moments and decided it had left his hand before the buzzer sounded - the official end of the game.
"That was a payback for the Georgia Tech game," Smith said, recalling Michigan State's NCAA tournament loss last season on a controversial at-the-buzzer shot.