No. 2 Michigan State rallies to beat Gonzaga 75-71
By Larry Lage
East Lansing — Michigan State’s winning streak at home against non-conference teams was in jeopardy.
The second-ranked Spartans — and their fans — refused to let it end against Gonzaga.
Durrell Summers hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a few minutes left, made two at the line in the final seconds and finished with 21 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to help No. 2 Michigan State rally for a 75-71 win over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
“It was the kind of game we needed, especially this early in the year,” Summers said.
The Spartans (2-0) won their 41st straight game at home against a non-conference team, extending a streak that started after a loss to Duke on Dec. 3, 2003.
“There’s no question the crowd won that game for us,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “If you were down there, you could hear it.”
Robert Sacre matched a career high with 17 points for the Bulldogs (1-1) despite playing just 19 minutes.
“He was really making a difference in there, then his minutes got limited because of the fouls,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That hurt us.”
Gonzaga freshman Elias Harris scored 17, Matt Bouldin had 15 points and Steven Gray added 13.
Kalin Lucas made a layup with 39 seconds left to give Michigan State a three-point lead and finished with 19 points.
Raymar Morgan scored 16 off the bench despite playing on a sprained left ankle and injuring his right ankle in the first half.
“I am really proud of Ray,” Izzo said.
Michigan State scored first, then trailed Gonzaga for much of the game.
The Bulldogs led by 13 midway through the first half and were ahead 35-30 at halftime.
They built another double-digit lead early in the second half, but were hurt by the 7-foot Sacre getting called for a third foul and 7-5 reserve Will Foster getting a fourth foul shortly after halftime.
Michigan State freshman Derrick Nix made a putback with 11:52 left in the game to put the home team ahead for the first time since the opening minute.
The Bulldogs, though, refused to wilt in the raucous Breslin Center despite having one of their youngest teams since becoming one of the nation’s stronger programs.
“It’s a terrific college basketball atmosphere,” Few said. “Before Thanksgiving, it felt like a game that would clinch a championship game in a league with the energy.
“We played here (in 1997) when I was an assistant with Dan (Monson) and this place has really grown.”
Sacre made a shot midway through the second half to put Gonzaga ahead by seven and a fadeaway with 4:42 to go for a 65-61 lead.
The Spartans made enough shots and stops in the final minutes in a game that will get them ready to play Florida, North Carolina and Texas before the Big Ten season.
“It’s a big win for us because we didn’t play real well,” Izzo said. “Gonzaga took it to us for at least 30 minutes. I have a lot of respect for Mark and their program.
“They punched us in the mouth, picked us off the ground and punched us again early — and I thought we were ready to play,” Izzo added.
Gonzaga, hoping to reload instead of rebuild, also faces a tough schedule with games against Wake Forest, Arizona or Wisconsin, Duke, Oklahoma and Illinois before starting West Coast Conference play.
Few said he had mixed emotions about Tuesday’s game because the Bulldogs had a shot at pulling off an upset — which would’ve perhaps been one of the school’s biggest wins in the regular season — but he went home proud.
“There’s a lot of positives we can take out of this, certainly how we competed,” Few said.