Alcorn State falls hard to Spartans
Published 12:55 am Sunday, December 14, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Neither Magic Johnson nor Mateen Cleaves, two of Michigan State’s greatest point guards who their teams to national championships, saw his team have as many assists as the 18th-ranked Spartans had Saturday in a 118-60 rout of Alcorn State.
The Spartans (6-2) had a school-record 35 assists, including a career-high 11 by freshman Korie Lucious.
‘‘If I had to pick one thing I’m most proud of, it would have to be the assists,’’ Michigan State coach Tim Izzo said. ‘‘We had 22 baskets and 20 assists in the first half. And Magic proved a long time ago that it’s as much fun to give as to receive.’’
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The Spartans had received their fair share of criticism, falling from a No. 5 ranking after lopsided losses to Maryland and North Carolina.
No one would have known that as Michigan State shot 58.7 percent from the field and threatened the school’s scoring mark of 121 points, set against Morehead State on Dec. 1, 1992.
‘‘A couple of players who had layups passed up points and created baskets for others,’’ Travis Walton of the Spartans said. ‘‘We’ve been working on trust. That showed here today.’’
Chris Allen finished with 20 points for Michigan State while Kalin Lucas added 16, Raymar Morgan 13 and freshmen Delvon Roe and Draymond Green had career-highs of 13 and 10 points, respectively.
‘‘It was all a result of being more unselfish,’’ Green said. ‘‘Coach told us we needed to get our assist total up, and we did that tonight. We’ve been doing it in practice every day this week.’’
Michigan State shot 71 percent from the field in grabbing a 60-26 halftime lead. In the two losses the Spartans managed 62 points against the Terrapins and 63 against the Tar Heels.
‘‘The 11 assists didn’t mean as much as only having two turnovers,’’ Lucious said. ‘‘We hear about turnovers every day, especially me. But we came out with intensity and didn’t let up.’’
That attitude wasn’t obvious at the outset.
Michigan State trailed 13-12 before an 18-2 run broke the game open, and a 31-6 surge brought out the record book. Every player in uniform had at least two points against the Braves (2-7).
‘‘I told the media the other day that we’d had a great week of practice, which is really unusual for finals week,’’ Izzo said. ‘‘But we needed a game like that. Every guy scored except (injured center Goran) Suton. And I hope he’ll be doing that in the near future.’’
In just their third home game this season, the Spartans extended their Breslin Center nonconference winning streak to 37 games.
‘‘It was a nightmare,’’ Alcorn State coach Larry Smith said. ‘‘State is a very good team and did whatever it wanted to do. Their players made shots, rebounded the ball and were very athletic.’’
Troy Jackson had 15 points and Anthony Ford and Jonathan Boyd each added 12 for the Braves (2-7), who shot 31.3 percent in the first 20 minutes.
‘‘This was great exposure for us and gave our kids a look at how a big-time program operates,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We hope we’ll have an opportunity to come back here.’’
The Spartans have a chance to regain some national luster next Saturday at No. 6 Texas. Michigan State has beaten the Longhorns the last two seasons.
‘‘We showed what can happen today when we guard with six eyes on the basketball,’’ Walton said. ‘‘Now, we just have to keep getting better. It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re competing against ourselves.’’