Game Notes: Northwestern at Michigan St.
Durrell Summers leads No. 5 Spartans past NU.
After an emotional victory over their in-state rival, the University of Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans stepped into the Breslin Center on Saturday, January 31, 2010 as confident as ever.
With a perfect record in conference play, 8-0, the Spartans were looking to continue their domination of the Big Ten when the Northwestern Wildcats made the trip to East Lansing, MI.
In 12 degree weather, an African-American male stood outside of the stadium gripping a sign saying “I NEED TICKETS!” Several other fans swapped money for tickets as their was a legitimate buzz to see the Spartans dominate their next opponent on their home floor.
“I just sold my last ticket, it was courtside too,” a chunky, tall black man says to someone asking for a ticket.
Walking past the security guards and finally getting onto the hardwood in the media section, the sounds from thousands of MSU loyalists cheering from the stands quickly fill the air. While most rocked a white “Izzone” t-shirt, symbolizing the student section, others wore jerseys of past and present MSU athletes like Mateen Cleaves (No. 12), Kalin Lucas (No. 1), Raymar Morgan (No. 2), Magic Johnson (No. 33), Morris Peterson (No. 42) and several other random players.
No matter who you were, you couldn’t help but to feel the Spartan pride especially if you decided to look up into the rafters and see the two National Championship (1979 and 2000) banners swaying from left to right, complemented by several other Final Four and Big Ten championship banners.
This is Michigan State basketball! It’s about pride, toughness and domination…
Charged up from the intensity of the crowd as well as their head coach, the Spartans came out on Tom Izzo’s 55th birthday on a mission. Although the game remained pretty close all throughout the half, MSU never lost focus. Durrell Summers led the way as he chipped in 8 points and 7 boards, including an two-handed alley-oop dunk on the opening play of the game from his teammate, Chris Allen.
As the time expired to end the half, MSU held a slim, 30-28, lead over the Wildcats.
MSU sophomore, Delvon Roe, accumulated the ball off of a rebound as he quickly outletted the ball to his speedy point guard, Kalin Lucas, who pushed the ball up floor. Seeing his teammate on the wing, he pitched it to Chris Allen who took one dribble from the left baseline and crammed the ball into the basket for a powerful jam!
This dunk pushed the Spartans ahead, 38-31, at the 17:03 mark of the half and the Wildcats would never fully recover as the crowd was charged for the rest of the night from the great play.
“Show the replay, Show the replay,” the fans chanted as it was a delay in putting the highlight dunk on the scoreboard’s screen.
After it was finally shown, everyone yelled “OOHHHHHHH!“
The Spartans would then cruise to a 79-70 lead over Northwestern, extending their perfect conference play to 9-0. Fans of the Spartans even sung “Happy Birthday” to Izzo all in unison when the game seemed to be fully out of reach.
“Happy Birthday, Coach Izzo…Happy Birtday to you,” everyone screamed.
Durrell Summers was MSU’s high-scorer as he finished with 24 points and 10 boards while Kalin Lucas scored 23 points and dished out 4 assists.
John Shurna led the way for the Wildcats with 31 points, nailing six of his 13 three-point attempts.
Standing in the locker room in front of his locker, Kalin Lucas took questions from the media. In the midst of all of the action, I managed to squeeze in as well as ask a couple questions of my own:
SLAM: What started to change in the second half, why did you start getting to the basket so easy?
Kalin Lucas: I think as far as the first half, they was trying to key on me a lot. So I had to just try to make plays and get my teammates more involved. Then in the second half they wasn’t worried about me. They started worrying about the team more so coach just put me in the middle and I just started making plays and I just tried to keep attacking and I just started getting some buckets.
SLAM: What do you feel like is so different on this team this year than last year? Why have y’all been able to dominate the conference?
KL: I think the one thing we’re doing, we’re just being more aggressive. We know that teams are gonna come at us so that’s the one thing we’re trying to do is be very aggressive and keep our confidence up and just keep playing good.