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>>caption: MSU's TRAVIS WALTON
AND BATEKO FRANCISCO OF RMU
(blue jersey) WATCH A LOOSE BALL
SQUIRT AWAY ACROSS THE FLOOR<<
@ MINNEAPOLIS, MN:
Robert Morris was willing and for
the first 16-mins they were able, but
a 21-0 Spartan run spanning before
and after halftime blew open a close
contest and Michigan State began the
NCAA men's basketball tournament
with a 77-62 Friday night victory.
MSU scored the last 11-P of the 1st-H and the first 10-P of the 2nd-H.
Bobby Morris briefly led 28-26 on a triple by Mezie Nwigwe, but the
Michigan State surge followed a 30-30 tie. The Spartys led by as many as 23-P
before cruising to the finish.
A Kalin Lucas layup started the 21-Zip blitz with Chris Allen also hitting
a layup plus a 3-ball and Draymond Green scoring two buckets for the 41-30
halftime lead. Coming out of intermission Delvon Roe leaned-in for a basket,
Lucas made a pair of free throws then a layup, Raymar Morgan sank a layup
and Green a layup to conclude the run that made it 51-30 just 4:26 into the
The 21-0 stretch saw the Spartan defense hold Robert Morris pointless for
9-mins and 18-sec.
Often using a three guard formation this season, Michigan State took
advantage of its rare size superiority vs smaller RMU and had a 49-28 rebounding
margin plus a 44-20 edge in paint points.
Five Spartans scored in double-figures. Morgan and Green tied for game-high
honors with 16-P each. Lucas managed 13-P in a game where he only had to play
25-mins. Goran Suton added 11-P with a game-high 17-RB. Allen had 10-P.
Morgan was benched for a spell in the first half with foul trouble and sat in
pain during the second half after a knee-on-knee collission, but gimped back
onto the court to score seven consecutive points. His 16-P effort was his best
game since a 17-P performance in a JAN 14TH win at Penn State before Morgan
spent six weeks on the sick list.
State continued to play tough defense even with a big lead, not allowing
the Colonials to crawl back into the contest a second time. MSU defensive
specialist Travis Walton smothered Robert Morris' leading scorer Jeremy
Chappell. Although Chappell did indeed lead Robert Morris in scoring, he did it
with a reduced total of 11-P as the only Colonial in double figures. Jimmy Langhurst
was next best with 9-P.
Michigan State improved to 27-6. Robert Morris concluded its season at 24-11
after reaching the NCAAs for the first time since 1992.
MSU moves on to play Southern Cal Sunday in a 2-vs-10 seedings match-up.
MSU H-COACH TOM IZZO: "We played one of our better games...I was pleased
with a lot of that game. Our rebounding was phenomenal. Our subs came in and did
a great job. They responded and that was kind of cool. We played one of our better
games in a lot of ways...We still have work to do. But all in all this was a good game
MSU CEN GORAN SUTON: "We knew coming into the game that we had a height
advantage, and (rebounding) is something we do the best. We just went out
there and were aggressive on the boards. I expect to have a double-double no
matter who we play...We showed the depth of our team. Any guy can score
on this team...It gives us a big boost, especially after coming off that loss to
Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament. We had a great week of practice and
I think we performed well overall tonight. Hopefully we carry some of this over
to the next game."
MSU FWD RAYMAR MORGAN: "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I think
we accomplished a lot of our goals tonight. We don't plan on scoring evenly. The
points just come as they come...There was a little bit of stress (on his injured knee).
but I got through it."
MSU FWD MARQUISE GRAY: "It's been a long time since we had every guy healthy.
It's been an up and down season for us, but what better time to have everything
working than now?"
MSU FWD DRAYMOND GREEN: "It feels great to score, but it feels greater knowing
that we got the win...I just seized the moment. There were missed shots and I'd get
a putback or when I got a dropoff to me I knew I had to finish."
RMU GD JIMMY LANGHURST: "Everybody's eyes lit up and we knew that we could
play with them. They're the same age as us. We were competing with them. It kind
of shocked us for a second."
RMU H-COACH MIKE RICE: "What I want them to take away is that all of the hard work,
all of the dedication, all of the sacrifices, they've had an incredible last two weeks of
their lives, and it's something they're always going to remember."
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