Second Round Sunday Recap: Michigan State Survives But Loses Lucas

    
March 22nd, 2010
Up 65-50 with 12:42 remaining following a Durrell Summers three pointer, Michigan State looked to be a safe bet to advance to the Sweet 16, despite losing starting point guard Kalin Lucas to an apparent Achilles' tendon injury. But the turnovers, nineteen in total, began to catch up with the Spartans as Maryland made their furious charge back into the game. Thanks in large part to senior Greivis Vasquez the Terps held an 83-82 lead with seven seconds remaining as Vasquez knocked down a driving basket. But just as it looked like the Spartans were headed back to East Lansing with their season over, Draymond Green found Korie Lucious, whose shot fake freed him for the game-winning three pointer that fell as time expired.

"Coach didn't call a timeout and Dray pushed it, they kind of crowded around Dray and I think I had the open look and he hit me so I just tried to get it up and it went in," said Lucious, whose role will expand if Lucas is unable to go next week. Summers made six three pointers in leading the Spartans with 26 points and Vasquez finished with the same to lead the Terps. What saved Michigan State from themselves: out-rebounding Maryland 42-24 and rebounding 48.1% of their missed shots on the afternoon. Next up for the Spartans is Northern Iowa, who scored the upset of the Tournament thus far with their win over Kansas on Saturday.

But the prevailing question now is how the Spartans go about dealing with the probable loss of Lucas. "It looks like it might be a torn achilles to be honest with you," said head coach Tom Izzo after the game. "And that poor kid, he was devastated and I wish you all could have been in the locker room when we went out at the end and everybody went into this little room he was in and maybe one of the prouder moments I've had as a head coach is the way they- we all talked to him and went out." The Spartans became looser with the basketball once he went out, and going up against a defense like Northern Iowa's they can't afford similar mistakes in St. Louis. But they're moving on nonetheless, and with Coach Izzo leading the way it wouldn't be wise to sell this team short.

Key Happenings

Buffalo: Big East heavyweights take care of business. There was a lot of criticism of the Big East in light of five (now six with Pittsburgh falling) teams losing by the end of Saturday's games. But regular season champion Syracuse and tournament champ West Virginia took another step towards a possible Final Four berths with wins over Gonzaga and Missouri in second round games at HSBC Arena. Wes Johnson led the Orange, who will now take on Butler Thursday night in Salt Lake City, with a career-high 31 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Andy Rautins added 24 points in the 87-65 victory and for the game the Orange shot 54.7% from the field. Elias Harris and Robert Sacre combined for 41 points for the Bulldogs but the Orange did a good job of limiting Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray (combined 6-24 FG).

As for the Mountaineers, they led for most of their game in beating Missouri 68-59 while turning the ball over just ten times (three in the first half) in dealing with the Tiger pressure. Da'Sean Butler led the way with 28 points and eight rebounds while Devin Ebanks (14 points, seven rebounds) and Kevin Jones (13 points, nine rebounds) chipped in on the scoreboard. And while they scored just seven points combined point guards Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla did a good job of helping to navigate the Missouri press. "He's [Mazzulla] just been stepping up for us at a good time," said Ebanks. "Starting in the Big East tournament and it's carrying over to the NCAA tournament. He's being very more vocal on the court and more into the game. You can definitely tell and sense it from him. That's what we need from him." Is too much read into "conference supremacy" in relation to Tournament results? Maybe, but at least the conference has its best two still playing.

Jacksonville: Cornell advances with an impressive beating of Wisconsin. Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman combined for fifty points and four starters finished in double figures as the Big Red soundly whipped the Badgers 87-69 to advance to the East Regional, where they'll play Kentucky. Cornell shot an astonishing 61.1% from the field and also out-rebounded Wisconsin 29-21, putting together a performance that impressed both head coaches. "I just thought in all my coaching, all the experience I had on any team that I ever played on, this game here was as well executed that I couldn't even imagine that we could play that well in the stretches that we did," said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue.

Jon Leuer led Wisconsin with 23 points and four players finished in double figures but the issue for Wisconsin was their shot selection. Twenty-five of their forty-nine field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, and while their efficiency percentage finished out at 116.9% that isn't their game. Cornell did a good job defensively of keeping the Badgers out of the paint and were rewarded for it. can they do the same against the powerful Wildcats? That's the question that will need to be answered in the affirmative if they're to knock them off in Syracuse on Thursday night. But the way the Big Red are playing right now it wouldn't be wise to automatically rule them out.

Milwaukee: Xavier's back in the Sweet 16. Regardless of who's coaching or who's playing, Xavier has a proud basketball tradition that dates back decades. All that Chris Mack has done in his first season in charge is win the most games for a first-year head coach and lead the Musketeers back to the Sweet 16, beating Pittsburgh 71-68 to earn a meeting with Kansas State. Jordan Crawford, who has been one of the players of the Tournament thus far, led all scorers with 27 points and a 16-0 first half run gave Xavier control of the game going into the locker room. The Panthers fought back with a second-half run of their own but it was too little too late as timely foul shooting from Terrell Holloway helped seal the game. Ashton Gibbs (19 points), Brad Wanamaker (16 points) and Gilbert Brown (14 points) led the way for Pittsburgh, but the Panthers were unable to gain control of the game once Xavier went on their run.

Add in the inability to stop Crawford and you've got a disappointing end to what should be looked at as a highly successful season given who they lost from last year's Elite 8 squad. But the story here should be about Xavier, who heads to their third consecutive Sweet 16. Be sure to understand just how good this program really is, and don't use the phrase "mid-major" either. "I don't feel like we're a mid-major at all," said center Jason Love. "You look at our schedule, we played some of the best teams in the country. And I mean I don't know a lot of mid-majors that make three consecutive Sweet 16s. So you can throw that out of the door right now. And maybe media will start getting us a little more attention."

Spokane: Purdue proves the critics wrong once again. Thought to be in trouble once Robbie Hummel went down with a torn ACL and given up for dead by many following their loss in the Big Ten semis to Minnesota, Matt Painter's Boilermakers have made a statement this weekend. They're a tough basketball team that while lacking a key component still has the ability to make some more noise in this tournament. Chris Kramer, not exactly known for his scoring prowess, scored on a driving layup with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give Purdue the 63-61 win over Texas A&M, advancing them to a meeting with Duke in Houston on Friday night. Kramer led four Boilermakers in double figures with 17 points and defensively Purdue limited the Aggies to 35.4% shooting.

Today nobody picked to us win this game," said Coach Painter. "After a while I think it really sits with our guys. They really use it for motivation." Now they'll go into yet another matchup that few will expect them to win, but if they can get scoring on the perimeter from E'Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant along with JaJuan Johnson up front the Boilers have the ability to send the top-seeded Blue Devils home. We already know that they've got the toughness required to do so.

Top Games

Buffalo: West Virginia 68, Missouri 59 See above.

Jacksonville: Duke 68, Californina 53 There wasn't much suspense in this one outside of the Blue Devils using defense to keep the Golden Bears at arm's length once Cal cut the lead to seven early in the second half. Nolan Smith (20 points) and Kyle Singler (17 points) led the way while Brian Zoubek added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Duke transfer Jamal Boykin led the Golden Bears with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Milwaukee: Xavier 71, Pittsburgh 68 See above.

Spokane: Michigan State 85, Maryland 83 See above.

Notable Performances

Buffalo: F Wes Johnson (Syracuse) 31 points and 14 rebounds in Syracuse's 87-65 pasting of Gonzaga to advance to the Sweet 16 in Salt Lake City.

Jacksonville: G Louis Dale and F Ryan Wittman (Cornell) The two seniors combined for 50 points (20-32 FG), six rebounds and five assists in Cornell's 87-69 win over Wisconsin.

Milwaukee: G Evan Turner (Ohio State) The junior rebounded from a subpar (for him) performance on Friday, accounting for 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists (those nine turnovers need to come down though) in the Buckeyes' 75-66 win over Georgia Tech.

Spokane: G Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) If not for Korie Lucious the senior from Venezuela would have scripted an amazing chapter in the Maryland postseason history book. 26 points, eight assists and four rebounds in the Terrapins' 85-83 loss to Michigan State.

Sunday's Scores

East Region
2)West Virginia 68, 10)Missouri 59
12)Cornell 87, 4)Wisconsin 69
Midwest Region
2)Ohio State 75, 10)Georgia Tech 66
5)Michigan State 85, 4)Maryland 83
South Region
4)Purdue 63, 5)Texas A&M 61 (OT)
1)Duke 68, 8)California 53
West Region
1)Syracuse 87, 8)Gonzaga 65
6)Xavier 71, 3)Pittsburgh 68