INSIDE SLANT: MSU Aiming To Bounce Back

Star point guard Kalin Lucas went down with a severe right ankle sprain midway through the second half of MSU's 67-49 loss at Wisconsin. He called it a "high sprain" after the game, which typically means longer healing time, and the Spartans' next two games are at Illinois and home against Purdue.

Michigan State is the latest Big Ten contender to suffer a major injury. And suddenly the Spartans' hold on first place looks less commanding.

Star point guard Kalin Lucas went down with a severe right ankle sprain midway through the second half of MSU's 67-49 loss at Wisconsin. He called it a "high sprain" after the game, which typically means longer healing time, and the Spartans' next two games are at Illinois and home against Purdue.

Michigan State holds a two-game lead over Wisconsin with eight games to play. Purdue has been without point guard Lewis Jackson (foot) for most of the season. Wisconsin is without star forward Jon Leuer (wrist fracture) until late in the season. And Ohio State star Evan Turner missed more than a month with a fractured vertebrae. Now the Spartans may face some games without their floor general and clutch shot maker.

"I guess the issue is whether he's a fast healer or not," MSU coach Tom Izzo said of Lucas' status for Saturday's game at Illinois, "and I don't know because he's never really been hurt."

If Lucas has to miss any time, backup Korie Lucious will step into that position. Izzo said he has no doubt Lucious will be able to take on more responsibility if needed.

WISCONSIN 67, MICHIGAN STATE 49: The Badgers jumped out to a 10-1 lead and never looked back. That lead did not dip below six, and Wisconsin was up 50-37 with 10:40 left when MSU star Kalin Lucas went down for the rest of the game with a right ankle sprain.

Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor combined for 36 points for Wisconsin, which hit several back-breaking shots late in the shot clock. The Spartans shot 37 percent and had just one scorer in double figures, G Durrell Summers with 11.

It was MSU's first Big Ten loss of the season, dropping the Spartans to 9-1. Wisconsin moved to within two games of the first-place Spartans.

--The shooting has been strangely inconsistent, even dismal for stretches, but one thing Durrell Summers has been doing on a regular basis is rebound the basketball. The Spartans are hoping his ability to clear the boards will feed the rest of his game. The 6-foot-4 junior guard had seven or more boards in six of his past nine games with two straight double-doubles entering the week. His 24-point, 10-rebound effort in a 79-70 home win over Northwestern on Jan. 30 was an illustration of all he can do for Michigan State.

He remains the team's most gifted athlete.
"When I'm hitting the glass like that, I feel I can't be stopped," Summers said.
"He hasn't been playing as well and he hasn't even scratched the surface," Tom Izzo said of Summers. "I've been trying to convince him that if you go to the offensive boards no matter what you do, you're going to feel better, you're going to play better, you're going to bring more energy."
Entering Tuesday's game with Wisconsin, Summers was fourth on the team with 5.2 rebounds a game. He was third in scoring with 10.8 a game, despite being erratic. Summers had three 20-point games and two scoreless outings. After shooting 50 percent from 3-point range as a freshman, Summers fell to a respectable 38 percent as a sophomore, and was at 28 percent as a junior before facing Wisconsin. He did hit 2 of 4 against Northwestern.
"I've been trying to figure that out myself," Summers said of his inconsistency. "I'm just trying to stay focused."

--Coach Tom Izzo got his 355th victory on his 55th birthday Jan. 30 against Northwestern, and it was a milestone in a more significant way. Izzo moved past Bobby Knight for the best winning percentage in Big Ten games for coaches who coached 10 seasons or more.

--The Spartans will have help from a familiar face for the rest of the season. Travis Walton, who captained Michigan State to the Final Four as a senior last season, will be a student assistant for the rest of the way while he finishes his degree. Walton played pro ball in Switzerland in the fall and still plans to pursue a playing career next year. But he can be on scholarship this spring, so he decided to finish school. Walton's aggressive defense should help prepare MSU PGs Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious in practice.
--Michigan State got a visit from a guy who delivered a crushing blow to the program 20 years ago. Kenny Anderson, then a freshman at Georgia Tech, hit a game-tying shot that came after the buzzer but was ruled good, sending a Sweet Sixteen game into overtime. The Jackets eventually won in overtime and advanced to the Final Four. Anderson came to a Michigan State practice Jan. 29 and the game against Northwestern on Jan. 30. He was a guest of his agent, Lansing-based attorney Steve Haney.

ON THE SPOT: Michigan State's defense has been strong this season, surprisingly strong at times. Big Ten opponents were shooting just 38.8 percent entering Tuesday's loss at Wisconsin. But the Badgers torched the Spartans for 51 percent shooting, exposing some leaks in that defense on the perimeter. Tom Izzo was especially unhappy with the defense of wings Chris Allen and Durrell Summers -- whose defensive issues have been well-documented over the years. An Illinois team with plenty of shooters is up next, so MSU must double its efforts to handle that road assignment Saturday night.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He looked like a pro tonight. He keeps playing like that, I don't want to say it, but he won't be here next year." -- Chris Allen on teammate Durrell Summers' 24-point game against Northwestern

SEASON RECAP: Heading to Madison on Tuesday, Michigan State sat alone in first place in the Big Ten at 9-0, the best start in school history. The Spartans were 4-0 in Big Ten road games, giving them a program-best stretch of 12 wins in 13 Big Ten road games. Michigan State's three losses came against good nonleague competition -- at North Carolina and Texas, and vs. Florida in Atlantic City.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Kalin Lucas, G Chris Allen, G Durrell Summers, F Raymar Morgan, F Delvon Roe. Key Subs -- F Draymond Green, G Korie Lucious, C Garrick Sherman, C Derrick Nix

MSU 65, Minnesota 64
MSU 57, Michigan 56
MSU 79, Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 67, MSU 49

at Illinois, Saturday, Feb. 6
vs. Purdue, Tuesday, Jan. 9
at Penn State, Saturday, Feb. 13
at Indiana, Tuesday, Feb. 16
ROSTER REPORT: --Sophomore PG Korie Lucious, a Milwaukee native, had more than 30 people in the crowd for his first trip back to Wisconsin since coming to Michigan State. Lucious has been struggling lately with just two points in the previous three games, but Tom Izzo said he was the team's best player against Wisconsin. Lucious had nine points and five assists, although he did turn it over three times.

--G Chris Allen is in a scoring drought, and Tom Izzo thinks it's partially Allen's fault and partially due to defenses paying him more attention. Allen has just six points and 14 shots in his past three games. He has worked to get better on defense, but Izzo said Allen is not practicing hard enough on the offensive end to be ready for games.

--G Durrell Summers was Big Ten Player of the Week after collecting 34 points and 20 rebounds in wins over Michigan and Northwestern. Summers had a team-high 11 points against Wisconsin, but he grabbed just three rebounds in 34 minutes. And seven of his points came well after the game was decided.

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