Chaminade makes Michigan State sweat in victory
The Detroit News
Lahaina, Hawaii -- For almost 30 minutes of Monday's game it looked like Chaminade was about to make people remember its upset of No. 1 Virginia in 1982.
Often Chaminade is the whipping boy for whatever highly ranked team comes to the Maui Invitational. But on that night in December, almost 28 years ago, the Silver Swords pulled off what many call the greatest upset in college basketball history.
On Monday, it was No. 2 Michigan State on the ropes against the tiny Division II school from Honolulu. And for more than a half, it looked liked the Spartans might be the latest heavyweight to wilt in the heat of Hawaii.
The Spartans needed a big effort, and on Monday it was guard Kalin Lucas who provided just what they needed.
The senior scored a career-high 28 points to help Michigan State overcome the upset bid and knock off Chaminade, 82-74, at the Lahaina Civic Center.
"The one thing I tried to do was be more aggressive," said Lucas, whose 14 first-half points kept Michigan State in the game early. "I just wanted to attack and make plays for my teammates and make shots for myself. That's what I was able to do."Michigan State (3-0) will play Connecticut (3-0) at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN in the winner's bracket.
"We didn't do a good job and deserve a lot of blame for that," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "But they played well and deserve a lot of credit. They weren't just lucky, they were good and they played good."Michigan State found itself in trouble early, having a hard time slowing down Chaminade point guard Steven Bennett.
Bennett, 5-foot-6, scored 13 first-half points to help the Swords (3-1) go into the locker room tied at 39. He finished with 20 points and 10 assists.
But the Spartans were able to slow him with Korie Lucious, who came in and put the clamps on Bennett.
"I just felt it was my job to try and contain him," Lucious said. "He was getting a lot of buckets and I was holding him, so I was just doing my best to contain him. He's so small, so quick, I just tried to contain him and not get open fast-break layups."Lucious not only provided a spark on defense, he also was much more productive on offense than he was in his first game against South Carolina. In fact, it was Lucious that sparked a key 20-3 run in the second half that turned a 50-45 deficit into a 65-53 MSU lead for the Spartans.
In one stretch, Lucious hit a 3-pointer, fed Keith Appling for another and then caught and converted an alley-oop pass from Appling. Austin Thornton added a 3-pointer before Lucious made two free throws to end the run with 12:12 to play.
"I felt great," said Lucious, who scored 13 points. "After I made that first 3, I felt like today was probably going to be a better day than last. I was just trying to build on that and do what I could to help the team."Despite the run by Michigan State, Chaminade -- now 5-72 in tournament play -- would not go away and cut Michigan State's lead to 73-66 with 2:45 to play on a 3-pointer by Shane Hanson.
That's when Lucas (11-for-20) seemed to take over again, converting a three-point play to put the lead to 76-66 with 1:46 to play.
"For Kalin, it's hard to believe he took 20 shots because I don't think he took one bad one," Izzo said. "Other than that, I don't think he took a bad shot all night."Michigan State now faces a Connecticut team it last played in the 2009 Final Four, an 82-73 victory.
That game will feature a rematch against Kemba Walker, single-handedly got the Huskies into today's game by scoring 29 second-half points to rally Connecticut to an 83-79 victory over Wichita State.
"I know he had 42 in the last game," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said, citing Walker's output in a victory over Vermont last week, "but that, to me, was maybe the best game that he's played."Walker isn't focusing on the last time he faced the Spartans, but realizes the opportunity playing the No. 2 team in the country represents.
"Of course it's in the back of our head that we lost to them in the Final Four," Walker said. "But we just have to come out with intensity and try to win. It's gonna show that we can play with the best. We want to try to get in the (NCAA) Tournament and unfortunately didn't get there last year. This is an opportunity."It will take another strong defensive effort to slow Walker, and Lucious thinks he's up for the challenge.
"We'll just try to do the same things we did with Bennett," Lucious said. "We'll try to contain him the best way possible. I know he likes to attack the basket, so if we get guys in the gaps and get help-side defense, we should be all right."
Michigan State was outrebounded (35-30) for the second straight game. The Spartans lost out to South Carolina last week, 44-41.
"We're not a program that gets outrebounded two games in a row," forward Draymond Green said. "We're not concerned to the point where we can't do it.