Just when it seemed Raymar Morgan was poised to finish his up-and-down college career with a flourish, the talented Michigan State forward reverted back to his trademark inconsistency at the worst possible time.
A foul-plagued Morgan managed just four points on 2-for-7 shooting in Michigan State's 52-50 loss to Butler on Saturday, not the kind of performance the Spartans needed against the stingy Bulldogs' defense. Morgan never generated any rhythm in 23 minutes, sitting the rest of the first half after getting his third foul 10:11 before halftime and then getting whistled for No. 4 with 12 minutes remaining.
"The refereeing is out of my hands," Morgan said. "You've just got to play regardless of the calls. But I personally didn't think the [third] foul was on me. But who knows. Maybe it was. I don't know. They saw it different."
Although Morgan started all four years, scored 1,000 points as a Spartan and played in two Final Fours, his legacy will probably be as much about what he didn't do at Michigan State as what he did. Morgan appeared to be on the verge of stardom after averaging 14 points a game as a sophomore, but he never built on that season, averaging 10.2 and 11.5 points respectively as a junior and senior.
In the Final Four last year, Morgan had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals to lead a Spartan uprising against Connecticut in the semifinal and then disappeared with a foul-plagued four-point performance against North Carolina in the national title game. It was more of the same this year, Morgan scoring 17 points against Maryland and posting a double-double against Tennessee before falling flat in the Final Four.
"We had like five fouls in the first couple minutes of the second half, and it just seemed like that got to all of us a little bit," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I think a couple players really let it get to them. Raymar did. He really let it get to him early. And that's not good."