Michigan State's Lucious set to fill in for Lucas
March 24, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Korie Lucious is enjoying his newfound fame, relishing the buzz he created on Michigan State's campus with his buzzer-beater against Maryland.
"I'm soaking it all up," Lucious said Tuesday. "I'm happy I made it, but I can't dwell on that shot. We have to move on because there's more games to win.
"I'm trying to get to the Final Four."
The fifth-seeded Spartans will have to beat ninth-seeded Northern Iowa on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals and Ohio State or Tennessee Sunday to advance to college basketball's showcase for the sixth time in 12 years.
The Spartans are not a popular pick to pull off the feat.
Lucious has to replace star guard Kalin Lucas, who ruptured an Achilles' tendon during Sunday's win that ended with Lucious' 3-pointer, while Chris Allen (right foot) or Delvon Roe (right knee) will play banged up in St. Louis.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo - whose .750 winning percentage in the tournament ranks third among active coaches - says the injuries have created his greatest challenge during his streak of 13 straight NCAAs.
"I know nobody is picking us for much right now," Izzo said. "I don't blame anybody, either."
If the Spartans get past Northern Iowa, though, it wouldn't be wise to count them out because they're 15-3 in the NCAA tournament's second-, fourth-round and championship games under Izzo.
"History says if we can get to the second game of a weekend, we've got a chance," Izzo said.
A lot of the doubt stems from the quantum leap Lucious has to make, replacing a two-time All-Big Ten player and 2009 conference player of the year.
Lucious has averaged five points - seventh on the team - and three assists in nearly 22 minutes this season.
Lucas led the team in scoring, 14.8 points a game, assists and playing time as a seasoned junior.
Izzo acknowledges he isn't sure how Lucious will fare, but the head coach and the assistant who recruited him out of Milwaukee are confident the sophomore won't be timid.
"He has no conscious," assistant coach Dwayne Stephens said. "He's not afraid to take a big shot."
Michigan State is trying to quickly find a way to harness Lucious's "playground mentality," - as Izzo called it - so that he can calmly set up plays as the on-the-court leader and avoid a slew of turnovers.
Lucious is confident he can make the transition.
"I need to focus more on the type of passes I make," he said. "And to not settle for home runs, but to try to go for singles."
Lucious said skipping a single class kept him home when Michigan State traveled to Penn State last month and thinks the suspension ended up being a blessing.
"After that incident, I've been playing the best basketball since I've been here, making a lot shots, getting people involved more and my defense has picked up," he said. "That incident helped me mature as a person and as a basketball player."
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