Spartans Erupt for Blowout Victory

"Today was one of his best games," coach Tom Izzo said of guard Kalin Lucas. "I thought early there were some games where he shot more. I thought there were some games where he distributed it more and we're just trying to hit that happy medium."

EAST LANSING — Saturday night marked the first time in nearly a month that the Spartans collectively put together a complete performance for 40 minutes. Michigan State defeated the Alcorn State Braves 118-60 to improve to 6-2.

It was clearly evident from the outset that the Braves were not going to provide much of a challenge for the Spartans, but this was a game that MSU used to get some of the problems they have been enduring corrected.

The Spartans had some trouble with the small lineup of Bradley last weekend, and that was a slight concern coming into this game with Alcorn State, who has a similar sized lineup. The difference on Saturday was that the Spartans did not get caught out of position as much as they have recently.

The Braves are a team that likes to put up a lot of shots in a hurry from three-point range, and the Spartans did an admirable job of contesting those shots all night long. The Spartans held the Braves to 30 percent from 3.

Troy Jackson, Alcorn State's best player, came into the game averaging 21.9 points per game. His first point came on a free throw with 5:53 left in the first half. He was held to 15 points on 6-17 shooting for the game.

"It was a team effort (guarding Jackson). We knew he shoots a lot. I think the whole team took it personally," Spartan guard Travis Walton said. "We have to continue to get our defense better, because we still have some big steps to take. I think today, we did a pretty good job."

The long shots that the Braves were putting allowed the Spartans to grab long rebounds and get their break going. The impressive aspect about the Spartans' fast break was that the Spartans advanced the ball quickly with the pass.

The MSU big men ran the floor hard, and they were rewarded accurate passes form the guards. The wings ran the floor with authority as well and scored slashing to the rim and from the perimeter.

"When you get some easy baskets, then teams start to back off of you, and it also gets your confidence going, Walton said. "As we run, then we start to get a little sharper on our half court offense, it's going to be pretty good for us."

Chemistry is one of the more substantial things that the Spartans have been looking to improve on, and everyone was definitely in sync on both ends of the floor. There was a noticeable difference in the team's execution in the half court.

Solid screens were set, which allowed players like Delvon Roe (13 points, 8 rebounds), Marquise Gray (7 points, 8 rebounds), and Draymond Green (10 points, 7 rebounds) to get some easy looks in the key.

Chris Allen also benefited greatly from the Spartans' efficiency on the offensive end as he continued his recent impressive play by adding 20 points. The Spartans shot just under 59 percent from the floor and totaled 35 assists for the game, a school record.

"We've been making the extra pass and just sharing the ball more," Green said. "It's going to click like that because we have shooters and we have guys that can finish at the basket."

Kalin Lucas has been trying to run the offense and get others involved, but he has needed to play more aggressive, which he did on Saturday night. Lucas looked for his shot more often than he has all season, but he did not force anything. He finished with 16 points and 8 assists without any turnovers.

"Today was one of his best games," Izzo explained. "I thought early there were some games where he shot more. I thought there were some games where he distributed it more and we're just trying to hit that happy medium."

Though Alcorn State was not the toughest opponent, the Spartans can view this game as a blueprint of how they need to perform in future contest against stiffer competition.

The Spartans' next game is on Wednesday against The Citadel at 8 p.m. EST.

NOTES

-MSU's 118 points is a tie for their second highest point total in history.

-Every Spartan player scored tonight.

-The Spartans extended their Breslin Center non-conference winning streak to 37 games.

-Saturday was the first meeting between the two teams.


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