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Temple Stuns No. 4 Spartans

Temple played horribly for the first 20 minutes, hung tough with one of the country's best teams for the next 161/2 minutes and let Pepe Sanchez do nearly everything the rest of the way.

Sanchez scored nine of his 11 points during the final 2:07 and the Owls rallied from a late 10-point deficit to beat No. 5 Michigan State 60-59 Friday night, setting off a March-like celebration at the Apollo of Temple.

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The last two points Sanchez scored were free throws with .5 seconds left, after he was fouled while wide open underneath the basket on an inbounds play.

"Everything just went so fast. I looked at the clock and knew I had to go to the basket," he said of the inbounds play that started with 1.3 seconds to go and the Owls down 59-58. "All of a sudden I had the ball in my hands. That was the first time in my life I've had to make free throws to win a game."

"You don't even know. That's a lot of pressure. I think I'm pretty cold and I felt chills all over."

Temple (4-0), which shot an abysmal 22 percent from the field in the first half, trailed 54-44 with 3:36 remaining. Sanchez had four points in a 9-2 run that pulled the Owls to 56-52 with 1:17 remaining, but there was plenty of time left for dramatics.

Two free throws by Andre Hutson with 1:03 left gave the Spartans (2-1) a 58-53 lead. Sanchez was fouled taking a 3-pointer with 56 seconds to go.

He made all three free throws, cutting the gap to 58-56, and the sellout crowd of 10,206 was suddenly into a game that had seen fans sitting on their hands for the first 39 minutes.

"We were always down. Every time I looked at the clock we were down," Sanchez said. "Finally, we started pressing and causing some turnovers."

John Chaney
John Chaney probably couldn't believe his eyes as his Owls took an unlikely victory over Michigan State. (AP)

Mateen Cleaves, who led Michigan State with 17 points, made one of two free throws with 52 seconds left for a 59-56 lead. Lamont Barnes of Temple rebounded an airball 3-point try by Quincy Wadley and was fouled as he converted the follow. But he missed the free throw for the three-point play and Temple was down 59-58 with 26 seconds left.

Cleaves then was tied up under the basket by Sanchez on the inbounds pass, his 10th turnover of the game.

Temple worked the ball around, and Rasheed Brokenborough drove with three seconds left and missed, but the ball went out of bounds to Temple, setting up the deciding play.

Cleaves took the blame for that play and the loss.

"We went to a zone and I was looking to make sure everyone was making sure there wouldn't be a 3-pointer and Sanchez cut back door and I was too late," he said. "I am the point guard on this team and I'm supposed to make sure we don't do what we did down the stretch. I take all the blame for this loss."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wouldn't have any of that.

"That was not Mateen Cleaves' fault. I'll take the blame," Izzo said. "We went to a zone. That wasn't something we've worked on. Blame me not him. "

"It's probably the most frustrating loss I've ever had as a head coach. Give Temple credit. Their guards did a great job, especially in the last five minutes and ours didn't. They got some key steals and Pepe Sanchez did a great job."

When Michigan State's wild heave was off at the buzzer, the Temple fans stormed the court.

Barnes also had 11 points for Temple, which finished 19-for-53 from the field (36 percent), a far cry from the 5-for-23 the Owls shot in the first half. Michigan State took a 33-21 lead by holding them without a field goal over the final seven minutes.

Cleaves was 7-of-9 from the field and had six assists, while Morris Peterson added 12 points and Jason Klein had 10. Michigan State shot 56 percent (23-of-41), but committed 23 turnovers, 15 in the second half.

The victory was the 1,500th in Temple's history, making it the sixth Division I program to reach that figure.

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