NCAA hoops: Fouls doom Michigan State in loss to Butler
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Fouls finally did to Michigan State what all those injuries couldn't.
Bogged down with key players on the bench all night, the Spartans failed to find an offensive rhythm in a 52-50 loss to Butler on Saturday in the Final Four.
The Bulldogs outscored Michigan State 17-10 at the free throw line to advance to the national championship game on Monday might.
"We didn't get it done," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought the physical play bothered us — that surprised me."
Raymar Morgan, Michigan State's second-leading scorer, played just 23 minutes and finished with four points and four fouls.
The calls hindered the Spartans and negated their typically aggressive style. After getting whistled for a foul in the second half, guard Korie Lucious simply raised his arms in frustration.
Morgan committed his fourth with 12:38 to play and Delvon Roe did the same with 2:23 remaining. Draymond Green fouled out with 6.1 seconds left.
"We just had some guys who didn't play much," Izzo said.
The fact that Izzo got Michigan State so far was surprising, considering all the Spartans went through this season.
There were discipline issues. Izzo kicked point guard Kalin Lucas, a two-time all-Big Ten player, out of one practice. The coach also suspended Chris Allen during the Big Ten tournament and Lucious for a game at Penn State.
There were injuries. Lucas was knocked out of the tournament with a ruptured Achilles' tendon in his left foot during the second-round win over Maryland. Allen sprained an arch in his foot in the first round against New Mexico State. Roe has played most of the season with an injured knee that will require surgery in the offseason.
If that wasn't enough, the Spartans faced a hostile crowd Saturday. Butler was fewer than 20 minutes from campus, and it was clear who the largely blue-clad crowd favorite was. In the same stadium where the Indianapolis Colts won the AFC championship two months earlier, it sounded as though the Colts had just scored a touchdown when Butler stepped onto the court.
"I was proud of them," Izzo said of his squad. "We were called for dead a lot of times this year and this team overcame a lot of stuff. It's going to help them in their life."
Michigan State lost four of seven games during Big Ten play before rebounding to win seven of eight heading into this one. After losing to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, the Spartans won their first four NCAA tournament games by a combined 13 points, the lowest total for a Final Four team since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
But after pulling out a string of close games to get to Indianapolis, the Spartans couldn't do it again — and all those fouls were a big reason why.