Spartan Hoops Courtside: Spartan Family On Display
Jan. 17, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - You couldn't have scripted a better reunion.
Putting on a show for another sold-out Breslin Crowd, a nationally televised audience, and nearly 100 former players in attendance, the No. 7 Michigan State basketball team seized control of first place in the Big Ten standings with an impressive 73-63 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
The win gives MSU a 5-0 start in Big Ten play for the second straight season and just the third time in school history.
After a slow start by the Spartans in which Illinois got out to a 24-18 lead, MSU played perhaps their best basketball of the season.
Coming out of a media timeout with 6:02 left in the first half, Michigan State rattled off 11 consecutive points, a scoring barrage coming from all angles. A 3-pointer by Korie Lucious. Two free throws by Delvon Roe. Jumpers by Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers.
By the next stoppage in play, the game had flipped: MSU 27, Illinois 24.
From there, the Spartans cruised. MSU closed the half on an 18-5 run to take a 36-29 lead into the break.
The lead continued to grow in the second half - all the way to 23 points - as Lucas, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, took over the game. He scored 15 of his game-high 20 points and shot 5-of-7 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 at the line in final 20 minutes.
"When I came out of the second half I saw Mateen behind the bench," said Lucas. "He just gave me that look: `Come on, it's time.' I already knew I had to come out and be more aggressive. I just had to regroup and be more patient, and let the game come to me. That's something I did and it all worked out great."
On one fast break, Lucas pushed the ball up the court with alarming speed, drove to the lane, faked a pass back to Summers, then finished with a dazzling layup while getting fouled. The crowd erupted and Lucas high-fived fans in the first row.
It was that kind of afternoon for the Spartans.
"We had a stretch in there where Kalin was pushing it and we were running and moving it and we really looked like a good basketball team," said Spartan head coach Tom Izzo. "Those stretches aren't long enough yet, but they are getting more common."
In addition to Lucas, Delvon Roe had arguably his best game of the year with a season-high 15 points and career-high seven free throws. And Raymar Morgan collected his 10th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting.
"Delvon posted better, he took it to the basket and he made himself available," said Izzo. "He was active on the offensive glass and so he consequently gets to line more.
"I thought Raymar played under control within himself. We put him in some situations where he was able to put it on the floor. He did a great job going left and making some shots that way. His defense was very good. Raymar Morgan is still one of our best players, we just need to get him playing like that every game."
Illinois, which was held to 35 percent shooting, made a late push to trim the Spartan lead to 70-59 with two minutes remaining. But following a timeout called by Izzo with 1:39 on the clock, Summers emphatically put the game in the win column for MSU with an easy slam dunk on a play that was no doubt dialed up in the huddle.
The dunk capped a fun afternoon at the Breslin Center, full of smiling faces from the past and present of Spartan basketball. Steve Smith. Mike Peplowski. Antonio Smith. Mateen Cleaves. Travis Walton. And countless others. Sharing stories of Big Ten championships and Final Four runs. All while the team on the court shoots for memories to call their own.
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