Lucas lifts No. 8 Michigan State to 8th win in row
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State made five 3-pointers in less than 3 minutes, making up for what was otherwise a lackluster performance.
Kalin Lucas scored six of his 20 points on 3-pointers during the first-half barrage that gave the eighth-ranked Spartans the lead for a good in a 67-58 win over Ohio State on Tuesday night.
“We were up and we let our guard down,” Buckeyes forward Evan Turner said. “They got shots all over the perimeter and the momentum changed.”
Michigan State has won eight straight since being routed by North Carolina and 26 in a row at home, dating to a loss against Ohio State nearly two years ago, but coach Tom Izzo was underwhelmed by the latest victory.
“We looked tired and we played tired,” Izzo said. “We’re going to have our first day off tomorrow in a couple of weeks and that will be good for all of us.”
Then, Michigan State (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten) will start preparing for a visit from the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.
“If we’re not ready to run in that game, we’re going to get run out of the gym because they’re very athletic,” Izzo said. “We have to get freshened up.”
Ohio State’s William Buford scored 17, B.J. Mullens had 16 points and Turner added 14.
The Buckeyes (10-3, 1-2) have lost three of four after starting 9-0, hurting without their most experienced player, David Lighty, who is out with a broken foot.
Ohio State doesn’t have a senior on the roster or a player left from the 2006 national championship team.
“We’ve got several guys that just played their second Big Ten road game and you’re trying to teach them the how and the why,” coach Thad Matta said. “We try to explain to our guys that there are momentum swings and you’ve got to be able to stop the momentum when it gets going.
“That was the biggest thing tonight we weren’t able to do.”
The Buckeyes led 17-13 with 8 minutes left before Michigan State took control.
Freshman Korie Lucious made a 3-pointer, Chris Allen followed with one, Lucas broke a tie with a 3, connected on another and Raymar Morgan’s long jumper made it 29-20 with just under 5 minutes left in the half.
Essentially, the Spartans lived off that 2-minute, 49-second sequence for the rest of the game.
“We got caught standing during that stretch,” Matta said. “Give them credit making five straight 3s was huge.”
Morgan, the reigning Big Ten player of the week, had 13 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double. Goran Suton had nine points and nine rebounds for the Spartans, who moved a half-game ahead of Wisconsin atop the conference.
Michigan State started the season ranked sixth, rose to fifth and plummeted as low as No. 19 following a 35-point loss to the Tar Heels and an 18-point setback against Maryland.
The Spartans have started to display some of their potential recently because Suton is back in the lineup after missing six games with a knee injury.
“Having Suton back definitely makes them a real contender,” Matta said.
Lucas, though, said the Spartans lacked passion against Ohio State and shooting touch at the line.
“We could’ve played a lot better,” Lucas said. “We missed a lot of free throws again. We can’t keep doing that.”
Michigan State was 17-of-26 at the line after missing almost half of its attempts in the previous game, leading to a .656 percentage that ranks among the Big Ten’s worst.
Ohio State’s Nikola Kecman was eligible after a 12-game suspension for playing on a team with professionals in his native Serbia, but the 7-foot, junior-college transfer didn’t play.
“In time, I think he’s going to help us,” Matta said.