Key First-Half Run Powers No. 9 Michigan State Past No. 4 Texas
Dec. 22, 2007
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - A 6-foot, 180-pound point guard could not be stopped during the pivotal part of the Texas-Michigan State game.
And, it wasn't D.J. Augustin.
Freshman Kalin Lucas scored a career-high 18 points, including a pair of acrobatic layups in a key first-half run, to lead the ninth-ranked Spartans to a 78-72 win Saturday night over the fourth-ranked Longhorns.
"We're listed the same, but I think I'm taller and I think I'm just as good as him," Lucas said. "I took this matchup personally because people have been saying he's the best point guard in the country."
Augustin was called for his second foul during the game-changing stretch, going to the bench with the score tied and 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
"It was just a stupid play, and I hurt my team," Augustin said. "I can't do that."
The Spartans (11-1) then took control with seven straight points to cap a 13-0 run toward the end of the first half, and didn't let the Longhorns (11-1) back in it until the final minute.
After Michigan State took a 72-60 lead with 1:15 left, Abrams made four 3-pointers in 36 seconds to pull Texas within five.
The Longhorns had a chance to get even closer when Lucas missed two free throws with 23 seconds left, but Raymar Morgan blocked Augustin's layup to essentially seal the win.
"That was a big-time block," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Abrams and Augustin scored 24 and 22 points, respectively, but they combined to shoot 15-of-37 as Texas struggled offensively for the first time this season against a physical and athletic team.
The Longhorns entered the game shooting 51 percent overall, 44 percent on 3-pointers, and were averaging 84 points with a 22-point margin of victory.
Michigan State held Texas to 39 percent shooting from the field, 38 percent on 3s, well below its scoring average while stunting the Longhorns' best start since the 1981-82 season.
The Spartans shot 49 percent and had a season-low seven turnovers.
"I don't know how much this game is going to help us, but you can never hurt yourself playing Michigan State," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "They are the best-coached team in the country. They are so good fundamentally that you learn from them."
The setback does not diminish how impressive Texas has been this season after losing national player of the year Kevin Durant to the NBA draft.
Texas was the first team to beat a pair of top-10 teams this season, UCLA and Tennessee, thanks to Augustin's sensational play and teammates like Abrams stepping into larger roles with Durant starring for Seattle.
Michigan State was expected to be good and it has been, proving itself against stiff competition.
The Spartans are the only team in the current Associated Press poll to play four ranked teams, beating all but UCLA, which rallied for the win after trailing by as much as 13.
"It's huge to play these kind of games so early in the season because the experience can only help you when it really matters in the tournament," Morgan said.
After a sloppy start that saw Texas take a 26-20 lead, Lucas came off the bench and made a circus shot in the lane and added a twisting, reverse layup later in the decisive run that put Michigan State ahead by seven late in the first half. He also had two of his career-high six rebounds during the run, and finished with six assists.
Lucas was at his best in the marquee game at the Detroit Pistons' arena, which is about 15 miles from the high school he starred at in suburban Detroit.
"I told Kalin before the game that playing at home, this could be his coming-out party," Izzo said, "and, it was."
Michigan State's coach, though, said Augustin lived up to the hype.
"I still think D.J. is the best point guard in the country," Izzo said. "You can't guard him one-on-one. You just can't. He's too good."
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