Veterans Memorial Arena
The Spartans came right at the Terrapins today running, jumping, shooting and defending. In a season that has been marred by slow starts they came out just like they did against NMSU: on fire.
The Spartans dominated the Terps on both ends, as every one of the Spartans hit on all cylinders and in all phases of the game. Izzo went big against his friend and Maryland head coach Gary Williams and frankly out-coached him to give the Spartans the early advantage.
When Williams adjusted to the Spartans running, Izzo then instructed his point guard Korie Lucious to walk the ball up the court. Williams was furious as they went to a time-out. The Terps and their future hall of fame coach were both frustrated with Izzo’s brilliant conducting of the game plan.
The Spartans were hitting on all cylinders like a well-oiled machine. Even in the first half of the NMSU game (Izzo called it the best basketball in two years from his team), there were some guys that weren’t firing. Not today. Against a better team, everyone was engaged and involved. Kalin Lucas defense (while playing) and ball distribution had him at the top of the list for contributors.
Great players make those around them better. Today Lucas did just that. I had said in my pre game prediction that the Spartans couldn’t let the Terps great point guard Greivis Vasquez do just that and they didn’t. The bad news for the Terps is that Lucas did just that.
At the 2:54 point of the first half, Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers combined had 25 of the Spartans 42 points and Kalin had six big assists.
With Vasquez on the Terrapin bench with cramps, at the 2:09 point of the first half play was stopped when Kalin Lucas injured his OTHER ankle. After a brief stint on the bench, he hobbled under his own power to the locker room for an early start to the half.
The Spartans headed to the locker room with a 48-39-halftime lead and with Raymar Morgan’s leadership (more than his actual play) directing his teammates. He called out directions and pointed guys to places on the floor making up for the loss of Lucas. I have watched every game he has played throughout his MSU career and without a doubt it was the best half of basketball he has ever played.
What they lost in Lucas defensively was made up Mike Kebler, who stopped Vasquez cold with suffocating defense. The big question was not if Lucas would be back. The big question was whether the Jekyl and Hyde Spartans could execute their best half of basketball into an entire game…
When Kalin Lucas didn’t join his teammates on the court after half time the Spartan Nation took a collective sigh as the second half began. Maryland began the second half with a big three and went right to the press.
With the Spartans in command 65-50 at the 12:22 point of the second half, Kalin Lucas came onto the bench in sweat pants and his foot in a boot. It didn’t matter. Down essentially two starters in Lucas and Allen, and a third severely hampered in Roe, the Spartans were not going to quit.
Durrell Summers not only showed the emotion Izzo has craved from him, but the scoring talents that had Izzo dreaming of on the wing when he recruited him. He finished the game with 26 points and four big rebounds.
The game came down to the Spartans had the better coach and the Spartans wanted this game more. With seconds left, Maryland had simply gotten back in against a battered Spartan M*A*S*H* unit. With the score 83-82 as time expired, Korie Lucious took an incredible pass from Draymond Green and buried a three pointer for the 85-83 win.
This was an incredible display of will and the Spartans survived and advanced. Chris Allen was told not to play and did for four minutes. Delvon Roe shouldn’t have played with his knee. Kalin injured his Achilles and Raymar lost a tooth. This was a great win. This was a win that if Xavier losses today the Spartans will be the only team in the nation to have made the last three sweet sixteen’s.
I said in the pre-game scouting report and prediction that Tom Izzo was the X factor. A lot of players played great today, but only one coached great. It wasn’t Gary Williams, it was Tom Izzo and the Spartans are on their way to St. Louis because of him.