Sunday, March 21, 2010
Spartans' Lucious caps fantastic finish
By Ted Miller
Michigan State's Korie Lucious (34) lines up his dramatic buzzer beater against Maryland.
SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was one of the great comebacks in NCAA tournament history. And then it wasn't.
Maryland trailed Michigan State by nine points with two minutes left. Then it took the lead -- twice -- in the final 35 seconds.
It was stunning.
Yet the final toss of fairy dust turned out to be green.
Korie Lucious, the Spartans backup point guard, playing at the end only because Kalin Lucas was out with a torn Achilles tendon, ripped a fade-away 3-pointer at the buzzer and Michigan State escaped with an 85-83 victory in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
It was stunning, take 2. As breathless a final two minutes as you'll see.
"It seemed like we were going to win the game and then it was taken away from us," said a stricken Maryland coach Gary Williams.
And euphoria: The Michigan State players piled on Lucious after his game-winner. Even Sparty joined the fray.
"Time was running out," Lucious said. "I just tried to get it up and it went in."
Spartans coach Tom Izzo is now 15-3 in second-round games as his team tries to reach its sixth Final Four in 12 seasons.
The Spartans dominated 38 minutes of the game. They did so with Lucas out the entire second half -- he's likely done for the tournament -- with fellow starting guard Chris Allen only able to play four minutes with a sprained foot and with forward Delvon Roe nursing bum knees.
It was another plot twist in a season that has been all over the place. From high rankings to player suspensions, to critical injuries and inconsistent play to -- now -- a third consecutive Sweet 16.
"Three weeks ago, we wouldn't have won this game," said Draymond Green, who thought he might have shot the game winner when he hit a jumper for an 82-81 lead with 20 seconds left.
But after Green's shot, Maryland raced down the court and Greivis Vasquez, who struggled against the physical defense of Raymar Morgan much of the afternoon, nailed a short jumper with six seconds left that put the Terrapins up 83-82.
Vasquez scored seven of his 26 points over the final 1:27.
"We had the game won for a moment," said Maryland's Eric Hayes, who scored 18 points with seven assists.
Only for a moment. The Spartans controlled the vast majority of the contest because they dominated the boards -- outrebounding Maryland 42-24 -- and their lone remaining starting guard, Durrell Summers was lights out.
Summers, who's been in Izzo's doghouse at various times this year, scored 26 points, hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range. It's the season scoring high for any Spartan player.
"Durrell, he grew up a lot in the last two weeks," Izzo said.
He and the Spartans appear to be maturing at exactly the right time.