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Tom Izzo and the Spartans End the Pre Season 2-0 with a 102-72 Thrashing of Nebraska Omaha

Payne has been a bright spot for the Spartans and has the intangibles of what Izzo craves.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Payne has been a bright spot for the Spartans and has the intangibles of what Izzo craves. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

East Lansing, MI

Breslin Center

The Spartans had their second and (thank God) final exhibition game of what could be an amazing 2010-2011 season. This time their victim was another division two school, Nebraska-Omaha. The final score didn’t show a 44-point win like it did against SVSU, but it could have. Instead it was only 30 as the final numbers were 102-72 in the favor of the Spartans.

Izzo played an array of lineups trying to build chemistry and frankly to get some looks at guys that NCAA rules haven’t allowed him to work. Izzo played the role of mad scientist tonight. He tinkered and he toyed. He was unusually quiet (at times) and let the guys play. Certainly he garnered a plethora of tape to teach and direct. I am sure that will thrill his players!

Adreian Payne was the star of this one though. He had 13 rebounds seven points, one block and two steals. He played 20 solid minutes. I asked Payne after the game what he was feeling after his first two exhibition games and he said, “I think I am pretty solid. The game is real fast and real physical, but I think I am going to be O.K.”

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Derrick Nix also played well. He found himself on the edge of Izzo’s doghouse and he came out swinging. He had ten points and three boards. Kalin Lucas dropped 25 to lead the Spartans.

The highlight of the game came at the 3:32 mark of the 2nd half. Korie Lucious played the best defense on a 2 on 1 break for Nebraska. Korie played it like a magician and forced a missed lay up that the Spartans sent the other way.  For the Spartans to reach the heights they expect in 2010-2011, there has to be a renewed commitment to defense and Lucious showed it. I asked him about that particular play and he told me, “I want to considered among the elite defenders at the guard position this season. It is something I am not only trying to do, but I am going to do. I want to be complete and that means I have to play defense at a high level.”

Interesting notes that I may only care about.

1) In the first half Adreian Payne the all world recruit went up and had his shot blocked by John Karhoff a freshman center for Nebraska Omaha. I found it funny how this wonderful game doesn’t care about star ratings on the court. I asked Karhoff after the game about that play and what it meant to him personally and he told me, “Obviously he is a great player. This was a great experience for me and my team. He has great length and he still had like 13 boards.”

2) Draymond Green’s brother Torrian Harris plays for Nebraska Omaha. When asked after the game how much he and Draymond talked leading up to the game he said, “He’s got like four cell phones so it is hard to get in touch with him.” I asked Draymond about the four cell phones in the locker room after the game and he said, “He can always get a hold of me. He just doesn't call and I don’t have four cell phones I have three.”

3) I asked Coach Hansen after the game to assess the Spartans and their preseason ranking. Are they the real deal? “There is not a weakness.”