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The Michigan State Spartans will open the 2019 NCAA tournament against Bradley. Here's a quick look at the Braves.
     Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press

CHICAGO – Kyle Ahrens lay on the ground crying.

A floor view is something in the state of the state of Michigan through since early December.

The tears, though, were new and real.

Michigan State's Kyle Ahrens walks off with crutches after defeating Michigan 65-60 at the NCAA college basketball championship game in the Big Ten Conference tournament, Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

The United Center crowd and his teammates in silence, Ahrens thought his season – maybe his career – came crashing to an end. With the Big Ten Tournament title on the line against Michigan.

"I felt it pop," Ahrens said later in the loose room. "I broke my leg several times, and I thought it was one of those times. It hurt worse when I broke it. I for sure thought I broke it. "

Every time Ahrens came back from a hard fall over the past few months, he would have talked about how to get through the pain for his mate Matt McQuaid and his fellow senior Kenny Goins. How much they wanted to send them out on a high note in their final season at MSU.

This time, though, there's no coming back to the court. Only a seat on the bench.

But he knew it was where he belonged, with his teammates. Who were trailing 41-34. Ohio State to let him know what he needs.

"He told me," you said, "You need to go out there." game, '"Ahrens said. "Hey what right. Iowe AJ all the credit on that one. "

[MSU’s Matt McQuaid told Kyle Ahrens: ‘I’m about to go off.’ Then he did]

When Ahrens returned from the locker room on crutches and wearing a hard walking boat with 14:10 to play, a magical chemical reaction took hold of the Spartans. Especially McQuaid.

McQuaid drilled a 3-pointer immediately after Ahrens was wheeled off the court for X-rays (which eventually came back negative for a fracture) with 4:34 left in the first helped.

McQuaid and MSU of the first two games against the Wolverines, fall by six early in the second half in late February on the road and storming back. Ahrens grabbed a few boards, made a layup and took a hard fall, then propped himself back up and slammed the floor to propel a run

Michigan State's Aaron Henry, left, and Matt McQuaid celebrate the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago. [Photo:KirthmonFDozierDetroitFreePress)

McQuaid would collect his teammates 'hands in the air and shout,' Arnie on 3 – 1, 2, 3 Arnie! "

" We were definitely trying to fight for our boy that went down. … that's my brother, "McQuaid said. "We've been rooming together since our freshman year. We get late-night eats, we do all sorts of stuff together. We're best friends. To see him down like that something tough. And he's been through a lot of injuries.

"I did not want to go out like punks or anything." I just wanted to keep fighting. "

Whatever it was when Ahrens sat down, it changed the game.

McQuaid hit another 3-pointer a few minutes later in what likely will be his last game against the Wolverines.

Aaron Henry got Cassius Winston's steal and sent an outlet pass, who drew a three-point play.

McQuaid buried another 3 from the Left Corner, swishing it over a double team

Then trailing by five, McQuaid did the same thing to Jordan Poole in Ann Arbor's first matchup, hesitating on his shot. A savvy veteran move.

McQuaid hit all three free throws, then drilled his career-high seventh 3-pointer, the last of his personal best 27 points, to pull MSU back within a bucket.

"I saw he had I think he had 21 or something (when he returned to the bench), and I thought it was his number, "Ahrens said. "And then he hit a 3 and I looked up and what, like, Wait, what?" I'm so happy for him, he deserves it. We call him Big Shot for a reason. "

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Winston again found Xavier Tillman for a tying layup with 1:18 remaining. Jon Teske and scooping in the go-ahead layup that completed the comeback.

Henry blocked Ignas Brazdeikis, then hit a free throw. Final score: Michigan State 65, Michigan 60.

Score after Ahrens came back to the bench: Spartans 31, Wolverines 19.

"We just kiddied on our way back and kept fighting and fighting," McQuaid said.

Michigan State's Matt McQuaid cuts the net after the 65-60 win against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, March 17, 2019 in Chicago. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

It is a fitting end-to-end part of the season, which has been filled with second-half comebacks and latecomers and overcoming one injury after another. 19659005] It dovetails now into the postseason. It is not clear if Ahrens wants to be able to make it back to the court, but he says he is taking it "day by day" with his left foot

Ahrens could not climb a ladder to cut down his piece of the net. That's how McQuaid is to do it for him.

That would mean MSU is heading to a Final Four.

But Sunday night,

Contact Chris Solari at csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari . Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.


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