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Saturday, April 3, 2010
Michigan State guards carrying Sparty

By Mark Schlabach

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan State's Korie Lucious has already done what Syracuse and Kansas State couldn't do against Butler in last week's West Regional in Salt Lake City.

Lucious, a sophomore from Milwaukee, opened Saturday night's national semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium with 3-pointers on the Spartans' first two possessions. He scored eight of Michigan State's first 22 points in the first half. MSU had a 22-20 lead with 7:26 to play in the half.

But the Spartans got a pretty good scare when Lucious came up limping with about 16 1/2 minutes to go in the half. MSU trainers examined his right ankle on the bench, but Lucious went back into the game a couple of minutes later.

Michigan State is already playing without leading scorer Kalin Lucas, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in the Spartans' second-round game against Maryland. He averaged 14.8 points in 33 games.

A big reason Butler became the first team to advance to the Final Four in its hometown since UCLA in 1972 was the defensive play of its backcourt.

Guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored shut down Syracuse's Andy Rautins in the first half of a 63-59 upset of the No. 1-seeded Orange in the West Regional semifinals, and then held Kansas State's Denis Clemente without a field goal in the first half of a 63-56 upset of the No. 2-seeded Wildcats in the regional finals.