ANCHORAGE -- A summer's worth of hard work enabled Villanova's Gary Buchanan to bounce back quickly from arthroscopic knee surgery and propel his Wildcats into the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
The senior guard scored 29 points Friday night as Villanova upset ninth-ranked Michigan State 81-73.
Buchanan had surgery just 12 days ago. Villanova coach Jay Wright said Buchanan's quick recovery and splendid performance was a testament to his hard work.
''He stayed at Villanova all summer, worked out every day, lifted weights and put on 15 pounds,'' Wright said.
''The first night I was worried (about the knee),'' Buchanan said. ''Tonight I just let all that go out the window.''
Buchanan was 9-for-14 from the field, including 6-for-11 from three-point range.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was disgusted with his team's defensive effort but impressed with Buchanan and Villanova's other senior starter, Ricky Wright.
''I love tough guys,'' Izzo said.
Wright scored 18 points, including six down the stretch to break open a one-point game.
''I think the team that put forth the effort won the game,'' Izzo said. ''They did the job and we didn't.''
Trailing 68-57 with 7:37 remaining, Michigan State fought back to trail 71-70 with 3:09 remaining.
But Wright's six points helped push the lead to 78-73 with 1:10 remaining and Michigan State could not score again.
Adam Ballinger led Michigan State (2-1) with 19 points and nine rebounds but was limited to two free throws over the final 15 minutes.
''I have to do a better job of getting shots and get to the foul line,'' Ballinger said.
After Buchanan hit a 3-pointer to give Villanova a 10-8 lead, Michigan State trailed most of the rest of the first half until Alan Anderson found Paul Davis along the baseline. His dunk tied the game 32-32 with 3:40 remaining. Buchanan's two free throws with 28 seconds left gave the Wildcats 36-35 halftime lead.
Wright's three-point play with 17:59 left in the second half started a 17-7 Villanova run that gave the Wildcats a 57-47 lead. Their biggest lead was 67-55 with 8:47 remaining.
Michigan State outrebounded Villanova 31-27 but the Spartans shot just 4-for-14 from 3-point territory. The Wildcats shot 10-for-21 from beyond the arc.
The win put Villanova (3-1) in Saturday's championship against the College of Charleston, which defeated Oklahoma State 66-58 Friday.
In the consolation bracket Friday, Wyoming defeated the University of Alaska Anchorage 77-69 and Loyola Marymount defeated Montana 65-62.
In the UAA game Friday, junior Peter Bullock had 37 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
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