Spartans "WIN AND ADVANCE" 70-67 Here in Spokane. They Play Sunday at 2:40 EST.

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Spokane, WA

Veterans Memorial Arena

NCAA Round 1

 

A relieved Izzo could finally exhale after tonight’s win.  Photo courtesy of Greg Martin.

A relieved Izzo could finally exhale after tonight’s win. Photo courtesy of Greg Martin.

 

When NMSU guard Jahmar Young asked who Kalin Lucas was prior to tonight’s game, he may have thought he was being cute. Well, Kalin didn’t think it was and the Spartan team who at times has struggled with motivation, came out here in Spokane on fire. Lucas ended with 25 points and wore his trademark big smile the entire game.

 

“I definitely think he knows who I am now, but all I really care about is winning our next game. We are done. We won and survived,” Lucas said in his post game reaction.

 

The Spartans owned the Aggies in the first half, heading to the locker room for the break up 13 by a 42-29 score. The Aggies closed the gap and took the lead at the 11:38 mark of the second half, 53-52. 

 

The Spartans needed Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen to maintain the momentum that they were non-existent for in the first half. Raymar contributed 11 second half points while visibly frustrated and Allen didn’t score.

 

This team has still failed to have all of their team play well on one night. A fact that both excites and frustrate them. “I mean we haven’t played a complete game yet and we can’t wait for that to happen. This is one and done time. We need that game next,” was Draymond Green’s assessment of the performance.

 

The Spartans had no problems at all with the Aggie press. It was the Spartans that let the Aggies back into the game when they didn’t capitalize on opportunities. The Spartans of the first half were the team I expected tonight. The team of the second half is the one that has tormented the Spartan Nation all season. NMSU didn’t do anything special in the second half. It was the Spartans that didn’t maintain the momentum.

 

At the 6:31 point of the game Kalin Lucas came up limping and headed back to the locker room. It was the same ankle he injured against Wisconsin and subsequently missed the following Illinois game. He quickly came back and his return was followed up with a Chris Allen injury. Allen did not return and was limping badly in the locker room after the game with a heavily taped and injured foot.

 

With 5:07 remaining Draymond Green hit two critical free throws. The Spartans have struggled from the charity stripe, but those gave the Spartans the 63-61 lead. Izzo had a much different perspective on his teams 70 % performance from the line than expected. “I can’t be upset with that (Free throw shooting) when Nix goes two for two.” Touche!

 

The Spartans failure to make the free shots allowed the Aggies to stick around in this game. A critical mistake that from here on out the Spartans can’t allow to continue if they want to win another game this season.

 

The Spartans now move on to the second round. A place they are comfortable with. They have not put together a complete game yet this season where the entire team plays well. 

 

With this win Izzo’s all time tournament record moves to 32-11. The Spartans are an all time 10-4 in the second round of the tournament, including winning an amazing eight of the last nine.

 

The Spartans play next on Sunday at 2:40 EST. We will have an amazing amoung of post game video up shortly including all four Spartan coaches and a plethora of players.