No. 11 Michigan State stomps on Texas-Arlington
Kalin Lucas responded to a benching just the way his coach had hoped.
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year scored 16 points and his teammates were there to help in No. 11 Michigan State’s 87-68 victory over Texas-Arlington on Wednesday night in its final nonconference tuneup.
"He’s a valuable, valuable player for Michigan State and the Big Ten," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "I need so much out of him that I hold him to a different standard."
A 3-hour meeting between coach and player Tuesday night seemed to clear the air and left Lucas feeling much better about Izzo.
"He told me I had to lead better and be a better team player," Lucas said. "I did need to hear that. I learned that he does care about me."
Izzo had also spent a lot of time with Durrell Summers and Draymond Green, and the results showed there, too, as they combined for 39 points.
Summers had 20 points, 13 in the first half, and Green added 19 points and seven assists in a balanced attack for the Spartans (10-3).
"Durrell caught it and shot it, and it looked like it was always going in," Izzo said of a player whose confidence wanes. "He’s a joy to watch when he’s like that."
Summers attributed the change to positive workouts and some much-needed bonding after a loss at No. 2 Texas.
"We had a great meeting as a team the other day, too," said Summers, who attempted 13 shots and played with passion. "I think that brought the team a little closer."
The adding of Green and reserve Isaiah Dahlman to help provide leadership seemed to take some of the burden off Lucas, who has been asked to do everything, including sell popcorn, in Izzo’s words.
"It’s a privilege, a blessing and an honor to be a captain in this program," said Green, a sophomore. "But what happened the other day was more about a title. I was already helping to lead anyway."
Lucas was held out of practice Tuesday to spend some time thinking about his leadership role. He did that and played 29 minutes, as many as any Spartan.
"I was disappointed in the way that was handled," Izzo said of the media’s emphasis. "If you want to go on a search and see how many teams throw guys out of practice, don’t bring a pencil or a pen. Bring a computer."
Marquez Haynes, the nation’s No 2 scorer, led the Mavericks (5-5) with 20 points, 5.2 under his average. Brandon Long added 16 points for Texas-Arlington but was just 6-of-19 from the field.
Michigan State scored the first 12 points of the game, had a shutout for the first 5:30 and built an 18-2 lead after 6-plus minutes.
With three starters injured, the Mavericks answered and cut the 16-point lead to six at halftime with six 3s in 12 attempts.
Texas-Arlington trimmed the lead to four points early in the second half, only to see the Spartans get a run and build their cushion to 24.
"I’m proud of the way we played tonight," Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross said. "While I am never happy with a loss, and neither are our players, I thought we played with intensity and did what we asked the team to do."
Michigan State shot 50.8 percent from the field, had a 39-29 advantage on the boards and 21-11 in assists.
The Mavericks shot 43.6 percent from the field and were just as accurate from long range, hitting 10-of-23 tries beyond the arc. But they committed 22 turnovers.
The Spartans begin their defense of the Big Ten title on Saturday at No. 25 Northwestern.