INDIANAPOLIS – Kalin Lucas couldn’t shoot straight for 39 minutes. He made up for those misses in a hurry.
Lucas scored seven points in the final 49 seconds, including 5 for 5 on free throws, to help Michigan State rally for a 67-62 win over defending men’s basketball national champion Kansas Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
Lucas shot just 5 for 15 from the field, but his teammates remained confident in their floor leader, who was the Big Ten player of the year. Lucas was matched up with Kansas’ Sherron Collins, who scored 20 points but was thoroughly outplayed late in the game.
“You know, I think the type of person Kalin is, when he gets another big-time guard, he wants to kind of prove himself to the nation,” Michigan State guard Travis Walton said. “Today, I think he took it personal.”
Goran Suton had a season-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds and five steals for Michigan State (29-6).
Michigan State overcame a 13-point deficit in the first half and advanced to play Louisville on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
“This year I’ve gone by feel. And sometimes I just feel sick, and it seems to work out,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
The Spartans beat Kansas with fundamentals. The Spartans went 16 of 17 from the free-throw line and committed just 13 turnovers.
Cole Aldrich had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Kansas (27-7). The Jayhawks responded to every Michigan State rally except the final one.
“It means so much to everybody,” Aldrich said. “It’s not just everybody in the locker room, it’s everybody that puts on a KU shirt. Everybody is hit hard because we had our chances and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Kansas came much closer to a repeat than many experts anticipated. Most of the stars from last year’s run jumped to the NBA, and the Jayhawks have no senior starters.
“A bunch of young kids came in here and competed hard and weren’t in awe of the atmosphere and the stakes,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “You know, we gave them a run. We just didn’t finish the game.”
Kansas led 60-57 when Michigan State’s Durrell Summers was fouled. He made the first of two free throws, and the Spartans came up with the offensive rebound when he missed the second. Raymar Morgan, who hadn’t made a basket the entire game, dunked to tie it at 60 with 1:46 to play.
On Michigan State’s next possession, Lucas spun, pump-faked in the lane, drew contact from Collins, then dropped in a shot. He made the free throw to put the Spartans ahead 63-60 with 48 seconds left.
“It wasn’t a set play,” Lucas said. “One thing, the shot clock was going down. That’s all I tried to do, tried to create. I just got lucky and I got him with the bump and I scored.”
Self said Lucas came through when no one did for the Jayhawks.
“If you look at that possession, and they let Lucas take the ball and try and create something in the middle,” he said.
Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor made two free throws with 32 seconds left, then Lucas came back with two at the other end to make it 65-62.
Collins was fouled with 20 seconds to play. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Michigan State came up with the ball. Lucas made two more free throws with 14.4 seconds left to seal the game.
Kansas led 36-29 at halftime, but Michigan State started strongly after the break. Draymond Green scored from in close and was fouled, and his three-point play cut Kansas’ lead to 40-39 just 3 minutes into the second half. Suton tied it at 42 on a 3-pointer with just more than 15 minutes remaining.
Aldrich scored twice during a 6-0 run to put the Jayhawks up 48-42, but their lead didn’t last. A pull-up jumper in the lane by Walton gave Michigan State a 51-49 edge, the Spartans’ first advantage since the early minutes of the game.
MSU defeated Kansas 75-62 on Jan. 10 in East Lansing, Mich., after the young Jayhawks fell behind 37-18 at the half.
This time, Kansas got off to the quick start. The Jayhawks took a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a layup by Collins.
A dunk by Brady Morningstar, the final basket during an 11-0 run over a four-minute span, gave Kansas a 26-16 lead.
The Jayhawks pushed their lead to 32-19 before the Spartans rallied late in the half. Michigan State chopped the lead to 34-27 before Aldrich hit a long basket from the top of the key with 18 seconds left in the half.
Suton appeared to make a long jumper as time expired in the first half, but the officials waved it off. After review, he was awarded the basket.
“I’m probably not really feeling like reflecting right now, but I do think this: We weren’t a very good basketball team early,” Self said. “The guys really came together. They gave us a chance to be good. We had players step up all year long, and we really became a good team.”
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