for this game

Lucas, Michigan State hand Texas first loss

Dec 23, 2007 - 5:07 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Kalin Lucas made sure that coach Tom Izzo's dire prediction did not come true.

The freshman guard scored a season-high 18 points as No. 10 Michigan State put the clamps on fifth-ranked Texas en route to a 78-72 victory on Saturday.

Raymar Morgan also scored 18 points and Drew Neitzel and Goran Suton had 12 each as the Spartans (11-1) handed the high-scoring Longhorns their first loss of the season.

Despite winning its previous two games by a combined 62 points, including an 85-45 victory over San Jose State on Wednesday, Izzo warned his players about being too confident heading into the matchup with Texas.

A master motivator, Izzo was quoted as saying that he hoped his team was not fooling itself about the easy wins, stating that it still needed a lot of work to be considered among the top teams in the nation.

"Coach was very intense these last few days of practice and he treated this like an NCAA tournament game and that's why he is one of the best coaches," Neitzel said. "He knows how to prepare a team and get his teams to win big games."

That, however, did not prove to be the case, as Michigan State started to pull away late in the first half and endured any type of push by Texas (11-1).

"Well, we thought we had to fight back, because we dug ourselves a pretty big hole, and they don't need much help," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Playing Michigan State, they do so many things well. If you aren't on top of your game, it's really hard to beat them."

Izzo was particularly pleased with the team's play on the defensive end, as Texas was held under 75 points for the third time in its last 10 games.

"I really felt that this was one game that our guys followed the game plan as precise as you could and in what we did defensively," Izzo said. "We tried to keep them out of the lane. They're such a good penetrating team and I still think D.J. Augustin is the best point guard in the country as far as a true point guard. I thought we did a decent job on him and we held A.J. Abrams in check until the last minute."

Somehow, Izzo also had a feeling that Lucas was going to have a great game.

"I told Kalin Lucas before the game this could be his coming out party coming home and I think it was," Izzo said. "He played extremely well both running our team and defensively."

Lucas, who had a combined 19 points in the previous two games, played a hand in a 21-7 spurt that gave the Spartans a 41-33 lead at the half.

"It meant a lot to me to come out here at the Palace (of Auburn Hills) and perform in front of my friends and family," Lucas said. "We took that as an advantage for us and came out here ready to play."

The 6-0 Lucas had two layups, including the first basket of the run, and Morgan added four points during the burst.

Averaging 83.7 points per game coming in, the Longhorns managed to close within 50-45 on a pair of free throws by D.J. Augustin with 13:52 to play. However, Michigan State responded with a 10-4 run to make it 60-49 on a layup by Morgan with 8:56 left.

Lucas, who shot 8-of-18 from the field with a 3-pointer, collected his final points on a jumper that made it 70-57 with 1:50 to go.

He also had six assists against just one turnover and grabbed six rebounds.

Playing against another young guard like Augustin proved to all the incentive that Lucas needed.

"D.J. Augustin is a great player so I took it personally with him and me," the 18-year-old said. "I just tried to guard him and tried to attack him and play great defense on him."

Although it closed within 77-72 on a 3-pointer by A.J. Abrams with 25 seconds left, Texas did not score again. Morgan's block of a layup by Augustin with 16 seconds to go ensured that.

It was one of three blocks for the sophomore Morgan.

Abrams had 24 points and Augustin 22 for the Longhorns, who shot 39 percent (24-of-61) and converted just 13-of-20 (65 percent) free throws.

Damion James chipped in 15 points and 16 rebounds for Texas, which was outscored in the paint, 30-16.