Draymond Green grabbed a mop in the final minute and helped sweep sweat off the floor.
Moments later, Michigan State finally brushed aside Saint Louis.
Green scored 16 points with 13 rebounds and set up Keith Appling’s crucial three-pointer late, giving the top-seeded Spartans a 65-61 win over ninth-seeded Saint Louis on Sunday.
It is the 10th time that Tom Izzo has guided the Spartans to the Sweet 16 in his 17 seasons as coach of Michigan State.
The Spartans will play No. 4 seed Louisville in the West Regional semifinals Thursday in Phoenix.
This one wasn’t so easy for the Spartans, 29-7, who had to fight and scrap their way past the Billikens, 26-8.
Saint Louis controlled the tempo but never got a complete handle on Green, Michigan State’s superb senior, who added six assists.
One of them went to Appling who hit a dagger of a three-pointer with 1:34 left that put the Spartans up 58-51.
“I don’t need to be a hero trying to make some scoop layup,” Green said of his decision to pass up a shot and pass to Appling. “If I see a guy open, I’m going to hit him. He was wide open in the corner, and I knew once he caught the ball, it was going in.”
It wasn’t the only basket Appling made. He finished with 19 points for the Spartans, who became the fourth Big Ten team to reach the regional semifinals, joining Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Kwamain Mitchell scored 13 and Brian Conklin 11 for Saint Louis, back in the tournament for the first time since 2000.
St. Louis Coach Rick Majerus was proud of how his team battled.
“We fought our guts out,” Majerus said. “They’re a terrific team. I don’t know that we could have played better.
“Michigan State’s a great team. They should win the national championship. They’re extraordinarily well-coached. They have great kids. They compete. They do it the right way.”