Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2010: Lucious in for Lucas

SPOKANE, Wash. - Sometimes, you don't need to call time out. Just let the players play and sometimes, they'll surprise you.

In a second round game in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo could have called a time out after Maryland's Greivis Vasquez scored to put the Terrapins ahead 83-82 with six seconds left. In fact, Izzo was prepared, standing next to the official with one hand hovering above the other waiting to call time out. But he wanted to see what his team would do next. He gave them a chance.

The Spartans made their coach's confidence pay off. After Vasquez's basket, the Spartans immediately inbounded the ball to Draymond Green, who dribbled up court. After Green passed half court, he looked for someone to pass to. No point guard himself, he almost hit a teammate in the head as he passed over to Korie Lucious. Lucious got the ball, though, gave a quick pump fake, dribbled once to the top of the key, and drained the 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Spartans an improbable win.

What made the victory even more improbable was that the Spartans had won despite an injury to starting point guard Kalin Lucas early in the second half. When Lucas went down, the Spartans were cruising with a 16-point lead, but Maryland took advantage of his absence to cut into the lead. It seemed like they had come all the way back after Vasquez's basket in the lane, but the Spartans had one final answer. It was fitting, too, that Lucious made that shot. He was the one who took over the point guard duties after Lucas went down.

After the game, the Spartans learned that Lucas would be out for the year with an Achilles injury. Undeterred, they won two more games anyway to advance to the Final Four.

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