Spartans Once Again Find the Guts and the Grit to Survive and Advance as they Beat UNI 59-52 Here in Saint Louis!

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Edward Jones Dome

St. Louis, MO

 

Coming into this sweet sixteen game here in St. Louis the talk was about destiny. It was about a team raising its play above the norm and somehow willing itself to the elite eight round of the NCAA basketball tournament.  The dream happened….

 

For MSU!

 

The Spartans were beaten up, tore up and limping and found a way to win. In the first half they struggled, and parlayed that into a second half performance of which the Spartan Nation has come to expect this time of year.

 

“It was amazing, the way Delvon played, simply unbelievable,” was how Izzo described one of the many heroic performances of his team. “I don’t care if playing on Sunday would cost me my career in basketball and never let me play again, let’s suit up,” was how Roe described his heart and mindset.

 

The Spartans battled back after a weak second half that saw them end the game with a +6 rebounding advantage and only ten turnovers. For the second game in a row Korie Lucious game through with an incredible shot at the end of the game to go along with his ten points, six rebounds and four assists. 

 

In a win without Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious officially put the nation on notice that this skinny playmaker from Wisconsin is no slouch. He commanded the team and directed the team with the precision of a twelfth year drill instructor, let along a young guard thrust into the national light.

 

With Lucas’s jersey hanging in the locker room Izzo didn’t have to say much at half time. “We knew what we were doing wrong. He didn’t have to say much,” was how Draymond Green described the half time break.

 

At one point in the game Izzo rose to yell at Durrell Summers, and simply laughed and told him OK. Could that be a metamorphosis of the relationship that has plagued this team all season? “Yeah it is. I trust coach and he trusts me now. We do get it and when you listen and understand he knows he can trust you.”

 

Draymond Green once got on a teammate before Izzo could to the delight of his head coach, “That is what we want with a player coached team.”

 

For the third straight game you saw the Spartans out coach the opponent. For the third straight game you saw Izzo be the X factor in his teams improbable march. Now Izzo moves to the elite eight. He is fond of telling his team that if they get him to the second day of an NCAA weekend, he will, “Get them past it.” Here is his chance.

 

Izzo is 15-3 on the second game of any NCAA weekend and all three of those losses were against number one seeds. Tennessee is a six. Does this team have another one in them? Can they make the Final Four for the sixth time in twelve seasons? Can they win?

 

That is for another day; tonight we take a deep breath. Tonight we take time to appreciate this run. Tonight we look at an improbable run that all season a group of individuals struggled through. Tonight we celebrate those individuals under the tough nosed fight and grit of their yooper coach, as they have become a team.

 

If the Spartans win on Sunday night it will be the greatest win in the career of Tom Izzo. If the Spartans win on Sunday night, perhaps a five seed couldn’t wear the moniker of Cinderella, but she could use the word destiny. For now we celebrate a heroic win by a group of kids that don’t quit and a coach that was stubborn enough to not let them.