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NCAA TOURNAMENT: MIDWEST REGIONAL

Michigan State takes out Kansas, 67-62

Lucas' play down the stretch helps the Spartans eliminate the defending national champion Jayhawks.

March 28, 2009|Shannon Ryan

INDIANAPOLIS — Sherron Collins chewed on his mouthpiece, untucked his blue-and-red jersey and walked off the court to bring another Kansas season to a dramatic close.

Unlike last season's national championship celebration, Collins left the Lucas Oil Stadium court hanging his head, biting his lip and wondering what had gone wrong.

Kansas, which lost all five starters from last season's squad, saw a five-point lead with three minutes left dissipate and watched as Michigan State players chest-bumped and hugged one another after the Spartans' 67-62 victory Friday night in at Midwest Regional semifinal game.

"I don't think it's a disappointment," Collins said. "We still exceeded what most people thought about us, but we had our own expectations in this locker room. I'd rather have gotten blown out than lose a close game."

The second-seeded Spartans remain the lone Big Ten Conference team in the national title hunt, advancing to play top-seeded Louisville in Sunday's regional championship. The Cardinals advanced with a 103-64 rout of Arizona.

Early on, the Spartans looked as if they might be the second blowout victim of the night, shooting only 35.7% in the first half and watching Kansas take a 13-point lead.

After halftime, Michigan State crawled back into the game, forcing Kansas into 19 turnovers and allowing the Spartans' stars to take over.

Raymar Morgan, who hadn't made a basket the entire game, dunked to tie the score at 60-60 with less than two minutes to play.

On Michigan State's next possession, guard Kalin Lucas made a shot in the lane and drew a foul from Collins, making the free throw for a 63-60 lead with 48 seconds to go.

"You know, I think the type of person Kalin is, when he gets another big-time guard, he wants to kind of prove himself to the nation," Michigan State guard Travis Walton said of Lucas' matchup with Collins.

Said Lucas of the three-point play: "It wasn't a set play. One thing, the shot clock was going down. That's all I tried to do, tried to create. I just got lucky and I got him with the bump and I scored."

Lucas made two more free throws for a 65-62 lead before Collins was fouled on the other end. He hit the rim on the front end of a one-and-one try, and Michigan State rebounded.

Lucas secured the victory with 14.4 seconds left.

"Kansas is a very, very good team," Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said. "I'm very proud of how our guys fought back."

Michigan State's Goran Suton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Lucas contributed 18 points and seven assists.

Collins finished with 20 points, and Kansas' Cole Aldrich had 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"A bunch of young kids came in here and competed hard and weren't in awe of the atmosphere and the stakes," Kansas Coach Bill Self said. "You know, we gave them a run. We just didn't finish the game."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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sryan@tribune.com

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