SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Michigan State made sure Maryland's Drew Nicholas did not get the ball for the final shot.
Freshman Paul Davis had a pair of big baskets in the final minute and seventh-seeded Michigan State survived a last-second miss by Steve Blake for a 60-58 victory over No. 6 Maryland in the semifinals of the South Region.
Maryland (21-10) needed Nicholas' last-second runner at the buzzer for a 75-73 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington in the first round. The defending national champions found themselves in a similar position a week later after Davis scored on a difficult bank shot with 4.7 seconds to go.
This time, Michigan State (22-12) allowed Maryland to inbound to senior point guard Blake, who was denied the ball on last week's play. Blake dribbled upcourt and had a wide-open look at a game-winning 3-pointer that hit the back rim as the buzzer sounded.
"I felt if I pulled up right there, I'd get a good look," Blake said. "I did. I just wasn't able to make it."
"We've won so many games, I thought we were going to win the game," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "I thought it was going in, he's made so many big shots for us."
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he wasn't sure how to defend Maryland's senior guards on the final play.
"The last defensive play, we just wanted to keep them in front of us," Izzo said. "You double Nicholas, Blake gets you. You double Blake, Nicholas gets you. I really like those two."
The Spartans are back in the regionals finals for the fourth time in five years after losing in the first round of last year's tournament. They will meet Texas on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.
Despite the loss, Maryland showed plenty of the championship resolve that has been its trademark in rallying from a 54-40 deficit with just under seven minutes remaining. A layup by Blake capped a 15-0 surge and gave the Terrapins their first lead at 55-54 with 3:45 remaining.
The comeback was fueled by an all-out full-court press that caused repeated miscues by the Spartans. Reserve forward Jamar Smith scored five of his seven points in the surge.
"We went to a full-court press, started picking up the intensity," Nicholas said. "We started making plays, started getting back in the game."
Davis, who finished with 13 points, broke a four-minute drought with a layup for a 56-55 lead with 2:51 remaining. Maryland's Tahj Holden responded with a basket 20 seconds later, then made a foul shot with 90 seconds left for a two-point edge.
The Spartans got a resounding dunk from Davis to tie the game with 58 seconds remaining, and Smith missed on the other end. That set the stage for Davis, who took a pass from Alan Anderson on the wing, drove baseline and banked in the winning shot.
"I was a decoy over there, but Alan drove middle and kicked to me," Davis said. "So I knew there were a couple of seconds left, so I knew to make something happen."
"Alan looked inside and then kicked it out to Paul and he made an athletic play," Izzo said. "We did get a little bit lucky, but don't get me wrong, I do think we deserved it."
Davis' effort off the bench led three players in double figures. Fellow freshman Maurice Ager and Anderson each netted 10 points to make up for a tough night from the perimeter from leading scorer Chris Hill, who made just 3-of-14 shots.
The Spartans were also bouyed by the presence of former MSU great Magic Johnson, who skipped the Los Angeles Lakers' game against Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards to attend. San Antonio Spurs players and former Spartans Kevin Willis and Steve Smith also loaned their support.
"He (Johnson) talked to the guys at the hotel and I wasn't even there," Izzo said. "We also had visits from Steve Smith and Kevin Willis who talked to the guys at the film session. It's been great for the players."
Michigan State jumped out to a 6-0 lead, and Aloysius Anagonye's layup provided a 14-4 cushion with 12:40 left in the first half. The Spartans settled for a 29-24 halftime advantage.
Maryland finally tied the game at 32-32 on Nicholas' driving layup with 16:40 remaining. The Spartans answered with a 15-2 tear that featured seven points from Ager. Davis' two free throws at the 12:04 mark made it 47-34.
The Terrapins struggles' were personified by Blake, who went in for an easy dunk and failed to get above the rim as he came up short.
"I thought I was going to get up higher than I did," Blake said. "I just wasn't able to get my legs under it."
Anderson's two foul shots made it 54-40 with 6:58 remaining before Maryland's last-ditch rally. Blake and Nicholas, two of the Terrapins' five seniors, spearheaded the comeback.
"I was proud for not just tonight the way we came back in the game, but for their career," Williams said. "I was glad everybody saw what these guys were made of and their refusal to go down."
Michigan State committed 12 of its 18 turnovers in the second half. Maryland scored 25 points off the Spartans' miscues.
"We just got careless with the ball," Anderson said. "They just got real hungry. They smelled blood and went after us."
Nicholas scored 18 points and Blake added 11 for Maryland, which suffered its first NCAA Tournament loss since a setback to Duke in the 2001 Final Four. The duo combined to make just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc, where the Terps shot 12.5 percent.
Senior guard Calvin McCall got a start for Maryland because freshman Nik Caner-Medley was late to a team gathering earlier in the day. Caner-Medley was scoreless in six minutes.