Spartans Outclass Vandals

Michigan State took the first step of what they hope will be a six month journey, outgunning Idaho 100-62 Sunday night.

EAST LANSING — On Sunday evening, Idaho was the first test the Spartans had to conquer on their journey to what they hope will be Ford Field in Detroit for the Final Four. Michigan State passed that test, defeating the Vandals 100-62.

With the Spartans' depth and versatility, many people wondered who would take the floor first for the Spartans.

After some experimentation in exhibition games, head coach Tom Izzo decided to go small. Kalin Lucas, Travis Walton, Chris Allen, Raymar Morgan, and Goran Suton started the game. The combination seemed to work well as MSU leapt out to a quick start.

A big man got the evening started for the Spartans. Suton hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, and the Spartans opened with a 9-1 run which prompted an early timeout by Idaho coach Don Verlin.

The Spartans utilized their full court man-to-man press and maintained the defensive intensity at a high level all night. But there is still work to do on that end of the court as far as communication goes; although MSU's intensity was sufficient, Idaho saw too many open looks

On the offensive end, an impressive balance distinguished the team's scoring. When transition opportunities weren't there, the Spartans were able to execute in the half-court, which should prove beneficial next week in Orlando against stiffer competition.

By the end of the half, the Spartans led 54-29.

Even though MSU's execution was exceptional, Izzo was visibly upset by one huge aspect of the game: rebounding. The Spartans were out rebounded by the Vandals to a tune of 33-31.

Morgan had one of his most disappointing nights on the glass. He shot 7-8 and scored 21 points, but he compiled only one rebound. Coach Izzo made certain that Morgan would hear about it after the game.

"Coach knows my ability," Morgan said. "I was a little down on myself, but I think next game I'll work harder at rebounding."

The second half belonged to Allen, a sophomore, who finished with 21 points and 4 rebounds. Allen, known for his shooting touch, attacked the rim aggressively and made numerous acrobatic lay-ups and even had an impressive tip-dunk where he showed off the athletic ability that he couldn't display last season due to injury.

"Last year it was one thing after another," he said. "Now I haven't had any injuries, so it's a great feeling for me to be able to be 100 percent."

Izzo spoke glowingly when explaining Allen's play in the second half.

"I thought that was one of the best halves of basketball Chris has played here." Izzo said

Allen and Morgan led the scoring, but the most impressive player in green and white was Lucas. He managed the game efficiently with calm and precision, dishing 9 assists while not committing a single turnover and scoring 13 points on only four attempts from the field. Idaho coach Don Verlin lauded Lucas' play.

"Nine assists, no turnovers — man that's good," Verlin explained. "I thought he was the key player of the game. A couple of other guys had big nights, but he's the one who gave us problems all night long."

Suton was the only other Spartan in double figures with 10 points. MSU also forced 22 turnovers while committing only 9.

Coming into Sunday night, the Vandals went 491 consecutive games holding teams under 100 points, dating back to 1991. Korie Lucious' three-pointer with 25 seconds left put the Spartans at the century mark, snapping the Vandals' streak.

Mac Hopson scored 13 for the Vandals and dished out 5 assists as well. Brandon Wiley chipped in 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Isaiah Dahlman didn't play due to a dislocated finger he suffered at practice.

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