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Lucas leads Michigan State past Wisconsin

Feb 23, 2009 - 12:25 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Kalin Lucas made sure Michigan State stayed alone atop the Big Ten standings.

The sophomore scored 17 points Sunday, leading fifth-ranked Michigan State to a 61-50 Big Ten victory over Wisconsin.

Lucas was 8-of-14 from the field and drained a key 3-pointer with 1:59 remaining as the Spartans (21-5, 11-3 Big Ten) pulled away late on the strength of a 32-9 game-ending run.

"When (the run) started, we just didn't answer very well," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

"The best way to do that is to get something around the basket to quiet the crowd. You have to get the ball up and out and not play off of a miss, especially when a guy drives and falls down without being fouled or touched. That gives them the advantage at the other end and that's how you get into trouble."

Michigan State, which was coming off a resounding 72-54 setback at Purdue on Tuesday, has a one-game lead over the Boilermakers (10-4) in the Big Ten. The Spartans are trying to win their first regular-season title since 2001.

Goran Suton added 16 points for the Spartans - 14 of which came in the second half.

"I was not really happy with (Suton) for 35 minutes to tell you the truth, and I told him that," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Goran has to bring it every minute of every game, and as happy as I am for him, don't think he's off the hook. He has skills and abilities to do a lot of things, and so how I am going to get that out of him in the next three weeks because that kid could be a very good player."

Wisconsin (17-10, 8-7) led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but a late rally by the Spartans ended the Badgers' five-game winning streak.

"We turned our intensity up in the second half," Suton said. "We were down. We were looking at our last chance."

The Badgers led 41-29 after Marcus Landry buried a 3-pointer with 12:31 remaining but were held scoreless for almost five minutes as the Spartans got back in it.

"When they were making their run, which you know teams are going to do especially at home, you need to get a bucket to squeeze between," Ryan said. "We missed some shots around the basket that always seem like they're easy, sitting there watching, but evidently they weren't as easy as they looked because they didn't go in."

Suton knotted the score at 45-45 with a layup at the 5:10 mark. Lucas then gave the Spartans the lead at 49-47 with a jumper with 3:18 left.

After a Michigan State steal, Chris Allen hit a 3-pointer to make it 52-47 with 2:40 left, and the Spartans won going away.

The Badgers, who entered the contest on a five-game winning streak, were paced by Trevon Hughes, who finished with 12 points, and Landry who added 11.

Michigan State outrebounded Wisconsin 37-25. The Spartans held the Badgers to 31 percent shooting from the field, including 28 percent in the second half.

"Wisconsin is a very good basketball team, and to hold them to 31 percent shooting I think speaks volumes," Izzo said. "I also think our rebounding was great."