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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Michigan State moves on to Final Four

    Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, right, is embraced by former Michigan State star and current NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson after the Spartans defeated No. 1-seed Louisville 64-52 in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
    Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, right, is embraced by former Michigan State star and current NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson after the Spartans defeated No. 1-seed Louisville 64-52 in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

    INDIANAPOLIS – The Michigan State men’s basketball team is headed to the Final Four for the seventh time in program history.

    The No. 2-seed Spartans beat No. 1 Louisville 64-52 in the Elite Eight round before 36,084 in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

    The Cardinals ended their season with a 31-6 record. The Spartans will move onto Detroit’s Ford Field -ÿjust an hour-and-a-half from East Lansing – with a 30-6 record.

    Friday was the first time Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo ever went up against each other head to head. As Pitino and his squad headed to the locker room, Michigan State fans began an “”Iz-zo, Iz-zo”” chant.

    Louisville fans started walking out of the stadium with just less than a minute to go in the game.

    Cardinal forward Earl Clark, a member of the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team, made a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go, but the shot didn’t help his team’s cause. The clock struck 0.00 and the Spartans players rushed the court, anxious to boast their new Final Four T-shirts and caps.

    MSU senior guard Travis Walton struggled to walk to the media table for a post-game radio interview as he tried in vain to hold back tears.

    “”I was thanking God. We pray. I pray,”” Walton said. “”I woke up at 7 this morning and prayed and prayed and prayed. He delivered for us. Like I said, we believe in each other.””

    This will be Walton’s first trip to the Final Four, and the team’s first since the 2004-05 season, when the Spartans lost to North Carolina, 87-71, in St. Louis, Mo.

    Waltonÿ- who was named to the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team, along with teammate Kalin Lucas – was the first one to climb the latter and cut the net of the basket near the Michigan State band, and his teammates followed suit, and each player tied their piece of the net to their caps.

    But it didn’t look like the Spartans’ game the entire time.

    With 53 seconds left, guard Korie Lucious made a 3-pointer, putting Michigan State up 30-27 going into halftime. The teams were tied six times and traded leads eight times in the first half.

    The Spartans came into the second half with a stingy defensive game plan. After allowing the Cardinals to shoot 41.7 percent (10-for-24) in the first half, Louisville made only 8-of-23 shots (34.8 percent) in the second half.

    The Spartans, on the other hand, made 46.2 percent of their shots (24-for-52), including 8-of-16 from beyond the arc.

    MSU 6-foot-10 senior center Goran Suton scored a team-high 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting. He made 3-of-5 shots from 3-point land, with all of his makes coming in the first half.

    “”G in the middle was great,”” Izzo said. “”These guards did a great job of getting him the ball in there. That’s where we felt we could get it. He operated in there.””

    Suton, who didn’t know a thing about the Final Four until leaving Bosnia, was named the Midwest Region’s Most Outstanding Player.

    “”I think the difference was the first-half confidence they got,”” Pitino said. “”I think Suton hitting those shots against our zone was very big. You know, he hits the 3. He doesn’t take a whole lot of them, but I think that was the difference in the first half.””

    A Jerry-Smith-to-Terrence-Williams ally-oop tied the game at 30 1:34 into the second half. The scored was tied against at 34 with 17:03 left in the game, but the Spartans only took off from their.

    Michigan State took a 41-36 lead with 12:30 left thanks to a soaring one-handed dunk by guard Durrell Summers.

    A jumper and an NBA-range 3-pointer from Summers gave the Spartans a 46-37 lead. The lead extended to double digits, 50-40, with two free throws from Suton.

    A 3-pointer from Summers built up a 15-point lead, 58-43, with 7:17 left.

    “”Durrell grew up today. He became a man,”” Walton said. “”He did something in our huddle today that was bigger than them shots he hit, that was bigger than the defense he played. You know, he showed some emotion. He showed some fire.””

    Izzo felt comfortable with Michigan State’s lead to empty his bench at the end.

    “”Detroit, here we come,”” Izzo said.

    And 1

    Magic Johnson was in attendance wearing a green Michigan State hooded sweatshirt. He was recognized on the jumbotron during the under-4-minutes timeout in the first half as a member of the 1979 national championship team.

    Denny Crum, Louisville’s head coach from 1971-2001, was also in attendance.

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