Second-ranked Michigan State got back on track with a grinding 76-71 win over the Washington Huskies in the third place game at the EA Maui Invitational in Hawaii.
Kalin Lucas scored a career-high 29 points, but it was a pair of clutch three’s by Durrell Summers in the final minutes that propelled Sparty over the top.
Michigan State had trailed by 10 at the half as Washington’s perimeter defense swarmed the Spartans, contested their shots and jumped on their usually reliable pick and roll game- forcing 14 first half turnovers. The Spartans clawed their way back in the second half and with 7:37 left Lucas took over- scoring nine straight points- he drilled a three to get within a point 61-60, followed up with a couple of driving buckets along with a pair of free throws and the game was knotted at 66 with 3:42 left. A minute later Lucas had to leave the game and headed for the locker room, though he would return, after a Washington player fell on his left knee. Matthew Bryan-Amaning hit two free throws to put Washington up 68-66.
On the Spartans next possession- and without the injured Lucas- coach Tom Izzo called a timeout to set up a three point-shot for Durrell Summers, who had thus far gone 1 for 10 in the tournament on three-point attempts. Summers rewarded his coach’s confidence by drilling the three as well as another three on the next possesion and Sparty was up 72-68 with 1:15 to go.
After Korie Lucious made a pair of free throws that increased the Spartan lead to 74-71 with :08 seconds left, Washington’s C.J. Wilcox shot an air-ball on a wide-open three that could have tied the game. Lucas, who had reentered the game, added two final free throws for the final 76-71 tally.
Notes: Michigan State outscored the Huskies 42-27 in the second half…Derrick Nix didn’t make the trip to Hawaii for “personal reasons.” Rumors are flying that he may be dismissed from team or planning to transfer…The sting of getting beat by an un-ranked Connecticut team may be a little less painful after UConn completely whipped Kentucky in the Maui Final. Look for the Huskies to leap into the top ten, they are one talented team…Three games in three days and the last game was played about 13 hours after the loss to Connecticut, just the kind of early season marathon Izzo loves to put his teams through…