First Michigan is Vanderbelted by Vanderbilt, then Michigan State comes down with a case of cat scratch fever.

The Kansas State Wildcats (26-9) defeated the Spartans (21-13) 98-93 in overtime, Thursday, at Madison Square Garden.

A dunk by Keyontae Johnson at 19:50 gave the Wildcats an early if narrow lead, one they maintained through most of the first half.  Joey Hauser put the Spartans ahead later in the second half, but neither team ever led by more than single digits.

The rough first half sometimes looked more like rugby than basketball, with Wildcats and Spartans on the floor grappling for the ball.

A.J. Hoggard fought hard, cutting into Kansas State’s lead again and again while scoring a personal record 25 points during the game.

The score was 38-43 at halftime, the Wildcats leading.

Michigan State quickly took advantage when Markquis Nowell limped off the court midway during the second half with a rolled ankle.  Hoggard helped the Spartans come up from behind with two layups and a 9-2 run.  The Wildcats teetered on the edge of dissolution.

Apparently, an unnamed Spartan mouthed off to the sidelined Nowell, rubbing some salt into the wound.  Not a good idea in retrospect.  All this did was spur the already frustrated Nowell into action.  His teammates caught fire and Nowell hobbled back to the field to tie the score 55-55 with a three-pointer.

Has trash talking ever paid dividends for the trash talker?  Does it pay in anything besides referee penalties and the improved performance of rivals?

Nowell’s return could not have been timelier.  Jaiden Aikens and Malik Hall cut into the Wildcat lead late in the second half, and a layup by Tyson Walker tied the score 82-82 with only six seconds left on the clock.

Overtime: tired players are pushed past their limits, making mistakes that cause fouls.  Free throws fall like rain in April.  But Kansas pushed past Michigan State in the last minute with a Nowell long-distance lob to Johnson, a jumper by Ismael Massoud, and a strip and photo-finish layup by Nowell. 

The final score: 98-93, Wildcat victory.

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Free Press