EAST LANSING – For Raymar Morgan, revenge is a dish best served hot — as in hot shooting.
The Spartan forward, who had been mired in a slump while the team lost road games to both Purdue and Indiana, broke out with a 16-point performance while torching the net seven of eight times from the field against Penn State Wednesday. He also minimized another nagging problem by recording four assists to only one turnover.
The avenging of a rare loss in Happy Valley was a much-needed boost for the whole team, coming off two tough road losses to Purdue and Indiana. But it may have been more important for Morgan than maybe any other Spartan.
Earlier in the week, Coach Tom Izzo was glum about his super sophomore. "(Morgan) is a great player, he's just not playing great right now," he said at his weekly roundtable.
That was before Wednesday's game where Morgan topped the 15-point mark for only the second time since his breakout 31-point performance against Minnesota on January 5.
After that game, when many were ready to crown Morgan "the next Spartan legend," he descended into season-low slump.
"All of the sudden everybody put him to leaving for the NBA after one (31-point) game where nine of his ten shots were inside," Izzo said, "that probably put a lot of pressure on him."
Then came the Nittany Lions at home, where an outstanding performance has released some of the pressure that built up from his premature coronation.
Despite his recent struggles, Morgan has remained a key component to the squad. He still leads the team in scoring (15.2 ppg) and is the Green and White's second leading rebounder (6.3 rpg.)
"Raymar is a huge key to our team. He can do so many things, whether it's rebound, post up, or score the ball," said senior guard Drew Neitzel after the win over Penn St. "The big key was to get him going and get back on track as well as the team in general."
Neitzel and company did just that, getting Morgan and other big men like Marquise Gray (9 pts, 7 rebs) and Goran Suton (10 pts, 6 rebs) looks early and often.
Like the Penn State game, Sunday's match against Iowa is another redemption game — Michigan State stumbled in Iowa City earlier this season. As a team, they'll be ready.
And after witnessing his recent performance avenging a disappointing loss, Morgan will be ready too.
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Vengeance Sweet for Raymar Morgan
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