–Tom Izzo was happy with the defense guards Keith Appling and Mike Kebler played on Penn State star Talor Battle, but it didn’t matter. Battle nailed six 3-pointers — most of them contested and well beyond NBA range — and scored 25 points to beat the Spartans in the semifinals on March 12. The more surprising result for MSU was the play of Penn State G Tim Frazier, who quadrupled his scoring average with a career-high 22 points.
–Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was able to take advantage of the Spartans’ surprisingly long stay in Indianapolis to get some recruiting done. Before the Spartans’ game Saturday, Izzo snuck away to watch a nearby high school playoff game involving SG Gary Harris of Fishers, Ind. Izzo and Indiana coach Tom Crean are in hot pursuit, among others, of the 2012 prospect. Harris scored 22 points to lead Hamilton Southeastern to a regional win at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.
–Michigan State’s senior class has now moved past the 2000 class — Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and A.J. Granger — with 105 career victories. They were tied for the fourth-most wins in school history. This class is 11-3 in the NCAA Tournament, the best record for a senior class in college basketball.
–Freshman C Adreian Payne got a surprise start in Thursday’s win over Iowa. It was just his third start of the season and his first since Jan. 18. He scored six early points and grabbed three rebounds in six first-half minutes. However, Tom Izzo went with his veterans in the second half, and Payne played just two minutes after the break. He ended up with 18 points in three games against Iowa this season.
–Things got ugly after Michigan’s 70-63 win over Michigan State on March 5. After converting a meaningless layup with four seconds left, Michigan’s Darius Morris found MSU’s Kalin Lucas and began woofing at him. Lucas yelled back and tossed the ball in Morris’ direction. They had to be separated in the handshake line seconds later.
Afterward, Morris said he thought Lucas threw the ball at him because of “collective frustration throughout the game.” Lucas said: “I didn’t throw it AT HIM, at him. But you know, we just got into it a little bit, man it’s basketball.”
Tom Izzo didn’t see the altercation, but he was informed during his postgame news conference.
“I’m not for that, so I’ll straighten that out,” Izzo said of Lucas throwing the ball. “But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left, (Morris) talked a lot of stuff all game including at our place. Maybe he deserved it.”
Izzo then pounded his fist on the podium in the interview room and said: “So let’s get the rivalry REALLY GOING.”
— The Wolverines’ win over the Spartans marked the first two-game sweep for U-M in the series since 1997. Michigan State still has won 18 of the past 23 meetings, after Tom Izzo lost his first five matchups with Michigan. He is 18-10 overall against the Wolverines.
“I’ve been on both sides of this,” Izzo said.
— Redshirt junior G Austin Thornton has another year of eligibility left, and the dismissal of junior PG Korie Lucious means Thornton will be able to stay on scholarship next season. But Thornton is still deciding whether to stick around East Lansing or try another place. He is on course to get his degree in May, and that would allow him to transfer to another school and play without sitting out a year. Former Spartan Tom Herzog went that route this season and is playing for Central Florida.
BY THE NUMBERS
3 — Times Michigan State has had to play on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament since the tournament began in 1998. The Spartans’ previous first-day appearances came in 2006 and 2007, and MSU won on the first day both times as they did Thursday. Michigan State’s last Big Ten Tournament championship came in 2000.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Yeah it bothers me. It’s a rivalry. It bothers me. Just like it bothered Bo Schembechler and George Perles, just like it bothered Lloyd Carr and different coaches we’ve had. Just like it’ll bother Mark Dantonio and Brady (Hoke). So I mean, yeah, it bothers you. Of course it bothers you. … I too will have another year, and I’ll get it back.” — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on losing to rival Michigan
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