Izzo sets school record for wins as Spartans down Minutemen

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Tom Izzo's dress shirt was soaked, a towel draped over his shoulder.

No, Michigan State's head coach didn't have to sweat out a tight win.

Izzo was doused with water by the jubilant Spartans after setting the school record for victories with 341 in the No. 2 Spartans' 106-68 win over Massachusetts on Saturday night in the Legends Classic.

"I had a little bath," a smiling Izzo said.

He didn't have time to duck when the Spartans snuck behind him in the locker room with buckets of water. The Spartans also gave their coach a plaque that read "341 leaves a footprint in the sand."

Water, sand -- perhaps it was fitting Izzo earned this milestone victory at the Jersey shore.

"I guess in some ways I'm happy that they appreciate even I want to leave some footprint here somewhere," Izzo said. "Maybe that's what meant as much as anything. I think they were genuinely excited about it and I hope they feel a part of it."

Izzo set the record the same week mentor and predecessor Jud Heathcote was inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame. For years, it was Izzo who sat by Heathcote's side as an assistant and associate head coach. When Heathcote retired, Izzo was his hand-picked successor.

Izzo had already matched him with one national championship apiece. He now stands alone atop the Spartans' win list with a 341-138 record in his 15th season.

"Jud had been so instrumental on my behalf and got me the job, that I'll just look at it as we have 681 wins between us," Izzo said. "We'll count that as a record."

Izzo made the hundreds of green-clad fans who made the trip wait a day for history after the Spartans (5-1) were upset by Florida 77-74 on Friday night. They returned for a glimpse of the record-setter in the consolation game of the tournament, where Florida played Rutgers in the championship game.

Like so many of Michigan State's games against weak nonconference teams, this outcome was never in doubt. The Spartans used a 30-3 run in the first half to turn this slice of school history into a lopsided one.

Chris Allen led the Spartans with 18 points. Raymar Morgan scored 17 points, Kalin Lucas had 16 and Korie Lucious 13. The Spartans made 14 of 22 3s, led by four each from Lucas and Allen.

They were all proud to be a part of Izzo's big day.

"Just like he's going to be remembered forever, we're going to remembered forever for the team that gave him that 341," Allen said.

Spartan fans held printed "341" cards and chanted Izzo's name in the waning moments, and stood and applauded him once the final horn sounded. Izzo has led the Spartans to five Final Fours since 1999 and were blown out in the national title game last season to North Carolina.

Izzo, Lucas and the Spartans are motivated to get there again and win the program's third national title. Heathcote won the championship with Magic Johnson in 1979, and Izzo won his title in 2000.

The Spartans were stunned by the Gators a night earlier in large part because they missed eight of 10 3-point attempts. The Minutemen (2-4) had a flicker of success early with an 8-2 lead, then watched it evaporate into a 32-11 hole once the Spartans regained their touch.

Lucas hit a pair of 3s that tied the score, Lucious and Morgan connected during the run, and even when they went inside the arc, the Spartans still got three. Delvon Roe made the most of a shaky pass and errant landing when he was fouled on a layup and converted the three-point play for a 32-11 lead.

Lucious hit three 3s in the first half, and the Spartans went 8 for 15 on 3s to take a 55-38 lead into the break.

Anthony Gurley scored 24 points and Ricky Harris had 15 for UMass.

"When we scored, they did as good a job as I've seen in a long time getting the ball to the basket and really pushing it down their throats," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

Izzo glumly downplayed the coaching milestone when the Gators won on Friday. He was more appreciative of the mark the night he tied Heathcote. Izzo will have little time to savor the win: Michigan State has a national championship rematch Tuesday against North Carolina.

"That's all we think about right now is getting back out," Allen said. "It's revenge time."


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