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This is Madness! No, This is March!: (7) UCLA Upholds Comeback of (10) Michigan State

Did Kalin Lucas transfer to Iowa State too?  Because he looked completely nonexistent during this UCLA vs. Michigan State game.  He began the game zero for eight from the field, finishing with 11 points while shooting 30 percent.  It wasn’t really his fault since Malcolm Lee and his fellow Bruins played Velcro defense against Lucas all game long. 

So all kidding aside, Lucas and the Spartans ended their season similar to the way most of the season.  The team started off completely flat in the first half, played catch-up in the second half, made the game ridiculously interesting, but it ended up being not close enough.  The season was a complete disappointment after beginning it as the preseason number two.  The Spartans underachieved completely while the UCLA Bruins were sneaky enough to finish second in the Pac 10.

The game didn’t look exciting for the first 30 minutes of the game, but after two major runs by the Spartans in the second half, Tom Izzo’s team made this contest really interesting. The Spartans had two major runs in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as UCLA ended Michigan State’s season 78-76.  Michigan State was even down 10 with five minutes to go, but it was a one-possession game in the final minute. 

This was a match between two basketball programs that are at the pinnacle of the sport, yet just a season ago, things seemed much different for these squads.  The 2009-2010 seasons were polar opposites for UCLA and Michigan State.  UCLA finished 14-18 overall including going 8-10 in the Pac 10.  The season started off awful for the Bruins with a double overtime loss against Cal State Fullerton and never became successful.  On the otherhand, Michigan State bolstered its way to yet another Final Four appearance by head coach Tom Izzo.  The future seemed bright for the Spartans once this season began with a healthy Lucas, but it never was picture perfect. 

The Bruins began the game with a bang, led by Tyler Honeycutt as he scored five of the first seven points.  The sophomore finished with 16 points and was a complete stat sheet filler.  Honeycutt drained three three-pointers, gobbled up five rebounds, dished out five assists, accounted for three steals, and deny three other shots.

All the players on UCLA just seemed confident all game long and didn’t even lose their composure when the game was dicey late.  Malcolm Lee added 16 points and freshman big man Josh Smith had 14.   By big man, I mean BIG man.  Smith, a McDonald’s All-American freshman and the second rated center from a season ago, is 320 pounds.  Yes, that’s bigger than State’s Derrick Nix and Minnesota’s Maurice Walker. 

Senior Durrell Summers and junior Draymond Green rallied the Spartan’s late comeback.  Summers, a pre-season pick to be a Big 10 All-American, continued his spree of inconsistency with his 15 points.  He had bad shot selection at times along with careless ball handling.  Luckily, he somehow kept the Spartans in the game.  

Green got knicked up in the first half by finished with a game-high 23 points. He ended up with a triple-double with 11 rebounds and 10 assists.  

This was the final game for the seniors for Michigan State. Lucas became one of the greatest players in Michigan State history after his long dedication to the program and his infinite hardwork.  Summers decided to return his senior season with Lucas in order to try to bring a title to East Lansing.  This dynamic duo won’t be easily replaced in the minds of dedicated Spartan fans.  The final senior was Mike Kebler, a former walk-on who played important minutes all season for Michigan State. 

The future still looks bright for the Spartans with the new leader becoming Green.  He will have to lead a team, with the help of Delvon Roe, that with have youth in freshmen Keith Appling and Adreian Payne along with incoming McDonald’s All-American Branden Dawson. 

UCLA will play Florida on Saturday.  Florida dominated UC-Santa Barbara and looked stronger than expected on Thursday.