In the final minutes of Friday night's win over Columbia, the Michigan State student section provided a new counter to the ball-controlling, time-eating Princeton offense: chant a phony countdown that forces a shot-clock violation.
The second-ranked Spartans, who at one point trailed Columbia by seven in the second half, were hanging on to a two-point lead late in the game when the Izzone forced two consecutive turnovers. Near the end of a possession, the students began a countdown chant, but instead of merely psyching out the Lions they intentionally mistimed the countdown, making Columbia think there was more time on the shot clock than there really was. Then they did it again on the very next possession.
"They're the best-coached fans I've ever seen," Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. "They duped us. They duped us on the backwards count or whatever.
"I think my one guy had a brain freeze because he was right in front of me, and there was like four (seconds) on the clock, and I'm like, 'Take a look.'"
According to Smith the crowd even tried the inverse, counting down early in the hopes it would force a rushed shot with time still remaining on the shot clock.
Columbia never scored again after the dual violations and Michigan State avoided a major upset with a 62-53 win.