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C-HOOP.....F 3/13/09
Posted on: 03-13-2009

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>>caption:  MSU's DURRELL SUMMERS (#15)

@ INDIANAPOLIS, IN:     Marquise Gray
returned to his customary seat on the
bench down the final stretch, but had
already come up with his best game of
the season to help Michigan State open
Big Ten men's basketball tournament
play with a 64-56 quarterfinal win over
scrappy Minnesota.
    Gray scored 11-P, all at key times,
and helped the Spartans pull away from
the Golden Gophers in the second half.
    State is now 17-1 all-time when Gray
scores in double figures.      
    Michigan State had its three principal big men in foul trouble, a sub-par game
from Big Ten Player-of-the-Year Kalin Lucas and difficulty with Minnesota's
inside zone defense.  
    Adjustments to play on both ends of the floor at halftime and some big
baskets by Gray early in the second stanza helped MSU boost its 3-P (33-30)
intermission advantage to as many as a dozen.
    The contest featured fiesty defense and a bunch of fouls by both tams in a
physical contest with five ties and eight lead changes.
    Unable to effectively pass or drive against a Gophers squad that held an
early 8-3 rebounding advantage, State went to the hoop with down low bounce
passes and alley-oop lobs to jump-start their 2nd-H offense. At the same time,
MSU forced Minny into a pair of prolonged dry spells by defensively cutting off
the Gopher dribble penetrations. MSU limited Minnesota to only 34.5% from the
field (10-of-29) after halftime and to just 3-of-16 (18.8%) in 3-point shooting over
the entire game.
    While Minnesota was in a 6-for-21 shot slump, the Spartans went ahead 58-46
with just 2:41 remaining on a pair of Goran Suton free throws. All of a sudden
the Gophers closed within 5-P at 58-53 when Damian Jackson made an inside
basket off a Lucas turnover to conclude a 7-0 spurt.
    State restored its double digit margin twice in the final minute by making
eight foul shots over the last 1:01. That was against the game-long trend where
the two teams combined to make only 32-of-58 charity tosses.  
    Chris Allen led the Spartans with 17-P and Lucas managed 12-P. Suton had 9-P
with a game-high 10-RB.
    Johnson scored 19-P and Devron Bostick 12-P for Minnesota. Lawrence Westbrook
added 10-P for the Gophers, but spent much of the 2nd-H on the bench when he was
just 3-of-9 from the field (and finished 4-of-11).
    MSU ran its record to 26-5 with its sixth sraight victory and ninth win in the its
last 10 games. Minnesota is on the NCAA-bid bubble with a 22-10 overall record
including three of those defeats vs Michigan State.
    The Spartans play Ohio State (which upset Wisconsin 61-57 Friday) in the Big Ten
semi-finals Saturday afternoon.

MSU H-COACH TOM IZZO:   "It wasn't pretty...we have to get better as a team...
We just got that little run in the second half, and that was the difference in the
game. So I am satisfied that we're moving on. I'm not as satisfied with some of the
things we did late and we made some mistakes."

MSU GD KALIN LUCAS:   "Man, I don't know what was wrong with both teams. I'm a
great free throw shooter. I think I missed three or four free throws, but every time
I shot it, it felt good."

MSU GD TRAVIS WALTON:   "They're young and they are scrappy, and today (Minnesota)
kind of brought it to us in the first half. In the second half we kind of picked it up. But
they did a great job of changing defenses on us."

MSU FWD MARQUISE GRAY:   " This time of year, you're never going to blow teams out by
30, 40 points. It's always going to be a close game."

MINN H-COACH TUBBY SMITH:   "We've had a pretty good year. Not a great year but a
good enough year...obviously we had a tough month -- February -- but those five games
we lost that month were all on the road. So hopefully that accounts for something (at
NCAA selection time)."


@ INDIANAPOLIS, IN:     Illinois took over after halftime and eliminated Michigan from the
B10 men's Qtr-Finals Friday evening, 60-50.
    The Wolverines shot just 33.3% (19-of-57) from the field.
    Ahead only 25-24 at intermission, the Fighting Illini had 2nd-H runs of 10-0
and 13-0 and led by as many as 20-P before UM scrapped back to briefly get within
58-50 with 18-sec left.
    Illinois had to play without star point guard Chester Frazier, who is out for at least
the duration of the B10 tourney after surgery on his right hand to repair an injury
suffered in practice.
    Mike Davis stepped up for the Illini with game-highs of 22-P, 10-RB and 3-STL. Demetri
McCamey added 12-P and Trent Meacham 10-P.
    DeShawn Sims led the Wolverines with team-highs of 15-P & 8-RB. Zack Novak had
10-P & 7-RB. Hot and cold UM GD Manny Harris had only 9-P.
    Michigan is now 20-13 and, like several Big Ten teams, on the NCAA tournament
selection bubble. Illinois improved to 24-8 and will play Purdue in the semis. (The
Boilermakers beat Penn State 79-65 Friday night.)


UM H-COACH JOHN BEILEIN:   "Illinois played great, both offensively and defensively.
(Mike) Davis was terrific and Bruce (Weber's) game plan was terrific. Their defense,
especially for a couple of spans in the second half, was just too much for us to handle.
We really had trouble with the pressure they were putting on us...they really did a
great job of keeping Manny (Harris) from getting comfortable...Then DeShawn (Sims)
got some really good looks, he got 19 shots off, had some good looks and the ball just
didn't quite bounce his way."

UM GD ZACK NOVAK:   "We lost our poise a little bit, on offense, and that led to them
getting some open shots. On their offensive end they knocked them down. I think
they shot 7-of-10 to start the second half. That is tough to overcome."

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