No. 2 Michigan State On Tap For UMass In Legends
Nov. 28, 2009
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - On the verge of becoming Michigan State's all-time winningest coach, the last thing on Tom Izzo's mind is another coaching milestone.
Izzo looks to make sure his second-ranked Spartans bounce back from their first loss of the season when they face Massachusetts on Saturday night in the third-place game of the Legends Classic at Atlantic City.
Needing one more victory to reach 341 at the school and pass mentor and predecessor Jud Heathcote as the program's winningest coach, Izzo will have to wait at least one day for the chance after Michigan State (4-1) lost 77-74 to Florida in Friday's tournament semifinal.
After his team committed a season-high 23 turnovers and a number of silly fouls down the stretch in their first game away from the Breslin Center, Izzo wants his team focused on improving rather than getting him the record.
"There's no, win one for Izzo," said Izzo, whose 2000 team beat Florida for his only national championship. "It's, win for the team and that's it. This is not like Bobby Knight. Everybody was anticipating it because he was going to break a record. I'm breaking 340 wins. Big deal."
After avoiding an upset by holding on to beat Gonzaga 75-71 on Nov. 17, Michigan State was not as fortunate Friday. The Spartans shot 52.5 percent and outrebounded the Gators 42-24, but they also went 2 for 10 from 3-point range and got outscored 22-10 at the free-throw line.
Durrell Summers, who finished with 13 points, missed two last-gasp 3-point attempts in the final minute for Michigan State that could have forced overtime.
"I can't really say we weren't ready to play because we were," said Izzo, whose team entered the contest holding its opponents to 36.0 percent shooting and 62.8 points per contest.
The Spartans will have a better chance of bouncing back if junior guard Kalin Lucas can continue his strong play. Lucas scored 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting Friday and is averaging a team-leading 17.4 per game.
Michigan State will face UMass (2-3) for just the second time. It won the first meeting 93-45 at the 1985 Lobo Classic in New Mexico.
Though the Minutemen finished 12-18 last season, they upset then-No. 25 Kansas 61-60 on Dec. 13 for their last victory over a ranked opponent.
While UMass shot 38.7 percent and committed 13 turnovers in an 83-75 loss to Rutgers in Friday's other semifinal, senior guard Ricky Harris finished with 22 points on 8 of 17 shooting.
"We need Ricky to play the game we know he can play all the time," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "He's a senior and he needs to play like that."
Harris, the Atlantic 10's top returning scorer at 18.2 points per game last season, is averaging the same through five games and could pose a serious challenge for the Spartans.
Junior guard Anthony Gurley added 19 points off the bench Friday for the Minutemen, and is averaging 17.0 points in a reserve role after posting 11.2 per contest while starting 23 games last season.
Rutgers shot 55.8 percent against the Minutemen, whose opponents are shooting 48.0 percent this season.
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