SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Kirk Snyder helped Nevada make the most of its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 18 years.
Snyder scored 19 points as the 10th-seeded Wolf Pack earned the first NCAA Tournament win in school history, 72-66 over No. 7 Michigan State in the first round of the St. Louis Region.
Nevada (24-8) looked overmatched for stretches in its first NCAA appearance since 1985, trailing by as many as 16 points. But Snyder and the Wolf Pack turned it up to send the Spartans to just their second first-round exit since 1998.
"I thought we were real fortunate," Nevada coach Trent Johnson said. "There were times we weren't our characteristic selves. We did it in the last five, six minutes and that's why we are sitting here now."
Snyder, the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, was held in check most of the night. But he nailed a leaning jumper and a long 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to put Nevada ahead for good, 65-63, with 2:55 left.
"He made some big plays, and that is what great players do, they make great plays," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Michigan State (18-12) went cold down the stretch, managing only one basket - a meaningless 3-pointer by Maurice Ager with 18 seconds left - in the final 7:33. Spartans center Paul Davis fouled out with 2:40 to play and scored just four of his 16 points in the second half.
"It was really important," Snyder said. "He was the go-to guy for their team and when he stepped out, it was kind of hard for them to score. And we knew that."
Nevada will face second-seeded Gonzaga in the second round.
Michigan State used a 17-0 run and built a 29-13 advantage on two free throws by Davis with 8:22 left in the first half. The margin was 43-34 at halftime.
Nevada turned in a much better defensive effort in the second half, harassing Davis and forcing Michigan State to shoot from outside. The Spartans shot 32 percent (9-of-32) after halftime, including a 3-of-10 showing from the arc.
"We'd been defending really well the last five or six games," Johnson said. "I thought they missed a couple of open shots, their leading scorer was in foul trouble, and that had a lot to do with it."
Snyder made just 6-of-17 shots as he was defended well by Ager. But Todd Okeson and Nick Fazekas helped pick up the slack by combining for 26 points.
Okeson's play was a key all night as he committed just one turnover in 36 minutes and made all eight free throws. Nevada was able to get to the foul line and shot 86 percent (25-of-29).
"Once we got going, then it just became a basketball game and we came out there and knew what we had to do," Okeson said.
Besides Davis, Michigan State - which entered with a 1-8 record against the tournament field - had no one else to get hot. Alan Anderson and Kelvin Torbert each scored 10 points but neither was effective in the second half.