Michigan State Survives New Mexico State

March 20th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Michigan State survived the notorious upset attempt in the No.5 seed versus the No.12 seed game, that has become a staple in the NCAA tournament over the past several years.  Against New Mexico State, the Spartans almost succumbed to tradition, but held off the Aggies, 70-67, to advance to the field of 32 in the second round.

Kalin Lucas led the way for Michigan State, scoring a career-high 25 points, while Raymar Morgan added 11 critical points down the stretch to keep the Spartans in front.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the years I’ve been in this tournament, the words ‘survive and advance’ that everybody preaches is the truth,” remarked Spartans coach Tom Izzo.

“I don’t want to say I’m glad we had a close game, but I learned something about these guys that I had been looking for this year. We played well early. We struggled in the second half. And we finished the game. We’ve survived and advanced.”

Morgan had seven points in the games’ final five minutes, that included two critical free-throws he converted with 18.6 seconds remaining in the game, thanks to a lane violation call on New Mexico State.

Aggie player Troy Gillenwater, who played very well for New Mexico State, scoring 17 points, made a dumb error by entering the lane early.  Morgan made the third attempt to make it a three-point lead for the Spartans.

That proved very costly, as over the course of the Aggies’ final possession, they had to resort to low percentage, desperate 3-point attempts.

Gillenwater was asked if he fell off-balance on the free-throw attempt following the conclusion of the game.

“Yeah, you can say that,” he said.

Aggie leading scorer on the year Jahmar young expressed his views on the situation that unfolded.

“The refs, they did their jobs I guess, but [that’s] not NCAA basketball. I didn’t think it was going to end up like that,” said Young in a post-game interview.

“Techs from talking to a player? We’re men. This is collegiate basketball. The next step is pros. We’re men. Just don’t take the air out of the game for our team.”

On the other side of the court, a different tune was being sung by the Spartans.

“We’re talking about a missed call, this and that, but Michigan State played damn well today. You know what? We really did,” Izzo remarked. “We played as well as we’ve played, that first half, all season long.”

Entering the game, Michigan State was established as a 13-point favorite according to USA Online Sportsbooks, but with the three-point victory, failed to cover.  The over/under for the match up was set at 151 points, but went the under with the two teams totaling 137 points.

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