Morgan Carries Spartans Over Jacksonville

Raymar Morgan scored 24 points but his best play might have been on defense, guarding Jacksonville's leading scorer.

As No.10 Michigan State went into halftime against Jacksonville only leading by ten points, their team MVP so far this season stepped up as he has all year.

Sophomore Raymar Morgan has been the most consistent Spartan player this season and his 24 points led the Spartans past the Dolphins on Saturday night, 80-51.

After scoring ten points in the first half, Morgan exploded with 14 points and six rebounds in the second half, helping the Spartans create a sizeable lead and win by over 30 points.

Morgan single handedly turned a 14-point MSU lead into a 24-point lead in a two-minute span late in the second half.

Drew Neitzel assisted on all three baskets in that span, dishing to Morgan first for a dunk, then for an electrifying reverse layup that sent the Breslin Center crowd into frenzy.

"It was huge; whenever our crowd gets into it it's a great boost for our team, and the bench gets into it so it's a great thing," said Morgan. I think it was just instinct, I felt a guy behind me and I felt like I needed to do a reverse."

He completed the three-point play and like it so much that he did it again the next time down the court.

Off a Jacksonville miss, Neitzel grabbed the board and fed Morgan on the fast break for a layup and one. He completed the three-point play once again.

Two free-throws on the next possession and MSU was ahead 72-48 with 5:41 to play, making the game all but over.

"Drew did a great job of getting me the ball and I am thankful for me to have a guy like that on my team," said Morgan. "He's just a great all around player."

Not only is he leading the team in scoring and rebounding, but Morgan is shooting over 60 percent from the field on the season, going 8-of-11 from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 on free-throws on Saturday night.

"I just try to thank the team because they got me involved early and they did a good job feeding me," said Morgan. "We're getting comfortable with each other and my confidence is steadily boosting, I am getting comfortable with my positions and it's just a good feel for me right now."

Not only did he put the Dolphins away with his scoring, Morgan also shut down Jacksonville's leading scorer Ben Smith, who came in averaging 17 points and four assists per game.

Although Smith finished with 16 points, his baskets were far apart and Morgan's defense limited him to only nine shots on the night, seven of which Smith made.

"I would say that tonight was one of Raymar's best all around games," said Coach Tom Izzo. "His stats look real good but his stats are not indicative of how good he played, because guarding (Ben) Smith, who is a fine player, Raymar might have done the best job of anyone."

Morgan will have to continue his hot start to the season next week as the Spartans face a rigorous two-game road trip, traveling to Bradley on Tuesday night and then heading to play BYU in Salt Lake City next Saturday.

BYU took No.2 North Carolina to the wire in a game just last week.

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