No. 12 Michigan St. 69, The Citadel 56
The Citadel’s players kept hitting 3-pointers, and Michigan
State coach Tom Izzo was left asking anyone around the same
“Could you be any dumber than I am?” he said, in reference to
bringing his 12th-ranked Spartans to McAlister Field House.
But Michigan State (7-2) bailed out its longtime coach, Kalin
Lucas scoring 17 points and the Spartans picking up their defense
down the stretch in a 69-56 victory Monday night.
Izzo agreed to the game years ago in a deal with his friend,
former Citadel athletic director Les Robinson.
The Bulldogs (6-5) nearly made Izzo and the Spartans look
foolish, using a 12-of-20 performance from behind the arc to keep
things tighter than anyone expected.
“I’m not sure I’ve been in games where both teams made 12 3s,”
The Spartans figured to have an easier time in their second trip
South in less than a week. Michigan State fell at North Carolina
89-82 on Dec. 1. But the Spartans didn’t count on the long-range
threat from the Bulldogs, who made their first seven 3s.
“That kind of let them know we were here to play,” said Zach
Urbanus, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for
Michigan State found its defense at the end, holding the
Bulldogs to two baskets over the last eight minutes to pull
Cameron Wells had 16 points to lead the Citadel, which fell to
0-34 all-time against ranked opponents.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God. They’re not missing,”’ Lucas said.
“But we just kept fighting.”
Raymar Morgan had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans,
who have won all three games they’ve played against the
Not that it was easy.
Urbanus’ basket with 8:16 left pulled the Citadel to 56-51 and
looked to set up a tight finish.
Korie Lucious came back with a 3-pointer for Michigan State, and
Morgan put back Chris Allen’s miss to make it 61-51.
The Bulldogs could not answer.
Izzo had his players and staff walk around campus earlier
Monday, soaking up the military college’s atmosphere of
“I think it helps give you an appreciation of what people that
really sacrifice are all about,” the coach said.
The Bulldogs hadn’t hosted a ranked team from a power conference
since Tim Duncan and then-No. 3 Wake Forest won 86-52 on Nov. 25,
With Michigan State, the Bulldogs pulled out as many stops as
they could. Coach Ed Conroy’s famous cousin, author Pat Conroy,
signed copies of his latest novel, “South of Broad,” before the
game. Pat’s jersey from his Citadel playing days, a subject of his
2002 memoir “My Losing Season,” was raffled off to fans.
The school’s Corps of Cadets filled the stands surrounding the
tunnel to Michigan State’s locker room and loudly taunted the
Then it was the Bulldogs’ turn to rattle Michigan State.
The Citadel, a so-so 35 percent on 3-point attempts coming in,
hit its first seven tries – including four in a row – from behind
Still, the Spartans looked on their way to taking control,
pulling ahead 35-29 on Chris Allen’s jumper with 3:22 to go before
But Wells finished a three-point play and Urbanus hit the
Bulldogs’ eighth 3 of the half to tie it.
Several hundred green-shirted Michigan State fans, expecting an
easy blowout, instead stood nervously for much of the period as the
Citadel kept it close.
Austin Thornton’s putback sent Michigan State to the break with
a 40-36 lead.
The Citadel continued shooting well from long range in the
second half, with Urbanus and Cosmo Morabbi each hitting 3s to cut
the lead to 47-45.
“They were hitting 3s, but we didn’t panic,” Morgan added.
“We kept with our offense and kept executing.”