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NCAA tournament 2010: Scouting Michigan State

The Maryland men's basketball team will take on Michigan State on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Spartans play a physical style that starkly contrasts from the one Maryland faced Friday night in its 12-point win over Houston.

Coach Tom Izzo, who is in his 15th season at the helm, led Michigan State (25-8, 14-4) through a season in which the Spartans had to maneuver through several potential distractions. There were suspensions and benchings and "messages" sent from the coach to players who displayed inconsistency. In Friday night's 70-67 first round win over New Mexico State the Spartans played at times like a squad that was not entirely on the same page.

Michigan State's linchpin unquestionably is junior guard Kalin Lucas (6-foot-0, 190 lbs.), who earned first team all-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive year this season. Lucas is averaging 15.2 points and 3.8 assists per game, while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range. He owns a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Lucas went down late in the second half Friday night after re-injuring his right ankle. He left the court with 6:31 left in the game and made his way back to the locker room for treatment, but he later returned to the action. Lucas initially injured the ankle on Feb. 2 at Wisconsin, and he sat out Michigan State's game Feb. 6 at Illinois. He said after the game Friday night that he should be able to play Sunday. Lucas finished with 25 points and four assists against New Mexico State.

Another starter, junior guard Chris Allen (6-foot-3, 205 lbs.), also was injured Friday night. Allen suffered some soreness in the arch of his right foot after going down with 5:22 remaining in the game. He left the contest and did not return, though he, too, said he should be ready to play Sunday. Allen broke the same foot last season during the national title game against North Carolina.

Allen is averaging 8.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He is shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three-point range.

Rounding out Michigan State's backcourt is junior guard Durrell Summers (6-foot-4, 205 lbs.), whose focus has been called into question on occassion by Izzo this season. On Friday, though, Summers tallied 14 points and drew praise from Izzo, who said it was the most focused he'd seen Summers play all season.

Summers is averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 42.8 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from three-point range.

The Spartans are a bit of a quandry in the post. They own a plus-8.8 rebounding margin, which ranks No. 2 in the nation. But how Michigan State uses its rotation of frontcourt players seems to change frequently. On Friday, freshman center Derrick Nix (6-foot-8, 280 lbs.) started and played five minutes, tallying two points, three rebounds, one turnover and no fouls. He is averaging 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

With Nix starting, Michigan State brings sophomore forwards Draymond Green (6-foot-6, 235 lbs.) and Delvon Roe (6-foot-8, 230 lbs.) off the bench, and they receive most of the minutes down low.

Green, the Big Ten's sixth man of the year, logged 25 minutes Friday and registered two points and 12 rebounds. He is averaging 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. What's interesting about Green is how much trust the Spartans have in him to handle the ball. When New Mexico State implemented a full-court press, the Spartans frequently in-bounded the ball to Green and let him find on of the team's guards on either side of the court. Green has tallied 100 assists this season, which ranks third on the team.

He also has recorded a team-high 42 steals and 27 blocks. Green is shooting 53.4 percent from the field.

Roe, meantime, is averaging 6.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He has tallied a team-high 30 blocks and is shooting 56.6 percent from the field.

Starting alongside Nix in Michigan State's frontcourt Friday was senior forward Raymar Morgan (6-foot-8, 230 lbs.), who might be the Spartans' most naturally gifted player. The only problem is Morgan is wildly inconsistent. He is averaging 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.9 percent from the field. He has tallied 34 steals and 19 blocks.

On Friday, Morgan finished with 11 points and four rebounds, but he played just 25 minutes because he picked up two fouls in the first half and then a third one shortly into the second.

Michigan State's primary backcourt reserve is sophomore guard Korie Lucious (5-foot-11, 170 lbs.). He is averaging 4.9 points and 3.1 assists per game. He owns a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio, while shooting 32.9 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from three-point range.

The final player in Michigan State's nine-man rotation is freshman center Garrick Sherman (6-foot-10, 235 lbs.). He is averaging 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

As a team, Michigan State is shooting 47.1 percent from the field, 33.5 percent from three-point range and 68.2 percent from the free throw line.

The Spartans rank No. 10 in the nation in assists per game (16.7). But Michigan State, which averages 13.9 turnovers per game, does not create much defensive pressure. The Spartans own a minus-1.0 turnover margin. They prefer instead to get the ball back through their efforts on the boards.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 20, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: NCAA tournament 2010: Injury update on Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen

Comments

Go team

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

UNI over KU. They are a very fundamentally solid and big team, but seem susceptible to pressure.

I think both Michigan State and a possible UNI game come down to flat-out wanting it more.

Posted by: jake177 | March 20, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I've thought Mich St was overrated all year. This is a team that was beaten by UNC. They are incredibly well-coached, they will play hard and they're not a great matchup for us.

That being said, we have just as much talent, depth and coaching expertise as they do. It's going to come down to making shots--we were 4-17 on Friday night from the 3--Hayes and Vasquez have to make shots to keep pressure on MSU. Win and we're on our way to St. Louis.

Posted by: PeteinAZ | March 20, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

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