No. 2 Spartans open with rout of Florida Gulf Coast
By Larry Lage
East Lansing — Michigan State needed something to help it wake up during its opener against Florida Gulf Coast.
Durrell Summers delivered.
slam on an alley oop sparked a run in the first half that the
second-ranked Spartans used to pull away from the Eagles en route to a
97-58 win Friday night.
“It gets a little more electrifying if
you can have those big-time plays,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
“Those plays do get people going. The players, fans, cheerleaders,
everybody got excited with that dunk.”
The Spartans (1-0)
started sloppy and sluggish, turning the ball over four times in less
than 4 minutes and failing to take the lead until the 15:22 mark of the
Florida Gulf Coast scored four more go-ahead baskets
until Summers’ dunk off Chris Allen’s lob put the Spartans ahead 18-17
midway through the first half.
“How we played early is what
we’re going to focus on, and not so much the second half,” said Eagles
head coach Dave Balza, a Michigan graduate. “I don’t think people
realize how quick they are. We played Kansas last year and there’s no
doubt, Michigan State is a faster team.”
Anthony Banks led the Eagles (0-1) with 10 points and former Michigan guard Reed Baker scored nine.
scored 14 of his 17 points before halftime and Kalin Lucas had 14 of
his 21 points in the second half, helping the Spartans win their 33rd
straight home opener and 40th nonconference game in a row at the
Michigan State didn’t look like it was fired up
to play an Atlantic Sun Conference team, in its first game since losing
to North Carolina in the national championship game at Ford Field in
Detroit. The Spartans, though, overcame poor play early against a
lackluster team in its third Division I season.
won’t be able to do that in upcoming games against Gonzaga on Tuesday
at home, then versus Florida, No. 6 North Carolina and No. 3 Texas.
“Now, we get Gonzaga here,” Lucas said. “I can’t wait!”
Morgan made a surprising appearance for Michigan State, playing on a
sprained right ankle that was expected to keep him out after he missed
two exhibition games.
The senior forward was welcomed by a
rousing ovation when he entered the game with 14:39 left in the first
half. Morgan was 0 for 4 from the field and 0 for 4 from the line in 9
minutes before resting in the second half.
“Raymar really wanted
to play,” Izzo said. “The ankle is not ready and it probably won’t be
for another two weeks, but it’ll be more ready Tuesday than it was
“He didn’t re-injure it, but it was getting stiff at halftime.”
Allen and Delvon Roe also returned for the Spartans after missing their
preseason game against Grand Valley State. Allen had a groin strain and
Roe a concussion.
“We had everybody in uniform, but we didn’t
have everybody back,” Izzo said. “I don’t think we’re near where we’re
going to be, but we have to get better or we’re going to be in trouble.”
State avoided another setback when Draymond Green limped off the court
with 3:13 left. Green was trying keep weight off his right leg after an
11-point, 10-rebound game, but Izzo said the sophomore forward simply
“He just wanted to make a big-time departure,” Izzo joked.
had 10 points and five assists and reserve Korie Lucious added 11
points and eight assists for the Spartans. Derrick Nix scored 11 points
and grabbed 14 rebounds — a record for a Michigan State freshman in
his debut — in just 15 minutes.
The 6-foot-8, 280-pound center
has lost about 50 pounds since he won the Mr. Basketball award last
season playing for Detroit Pershing High school.
“He’s sweat a lot of weight off,” Izzo said. “It’s nice to see him rewarded.”