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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spartans edge New Mexico St.


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Utah State's Tai Wesley looks to pass while being defended by Texas A&M's David Loubeau. Texas A&M won, 69-53.

RAJAH BOSE | Associated Press

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SPOKANE, Wash. A career night from Kalin Lucas. A late comeback by Raymar Morgan. And a lane violation, of all things.

That's what it took to keep Michigan State moving on in yet another NCAA tournament.

Lucas scored a career-high 25 points and Morgan hit key shots late as fifth-seeded Michigan State beat No. 12 New Mexico State, 70-67, yesterday in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

"If there's one thing I've learned in the years I've been in this tournament, the words 'survive and advance' that everybody preaches is the truth," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said after sweating and screaming through the start of his 13th consecutive NCAA tournament.

Morgan had just four points in the game's first 34 1/2 minutes for Michigan State (25-8). But he broke a late tie with four straight points after New Mexico State had rallied from 13 down. Then he made two free throws with 18.6 seconds remaining with the aid of that rare lane-violation call.

Official Ray Perone called Troy Gillenwater, who scored 17 points and hit the 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that got New Mexico State (22-12) within 68-67, for stepping into the lane before Morgan's second shot, a miss with 18.6 seconds to go. Morgan converted his gift second chance to put MSU, of the Big Ten, up 70-67.

Asked if he indeed lost his balance and fell into the lane early, Gillenwater said glumly, "Yeah, you can say that."

Talkative Aggies leader Jahmar Young was far more critical.

"They took the air out of the game," said Young, whom Perone had whistled for a dead-ball technical foul. It was one of three fouls that had Young on the bench and a non-factor as Michigan State took a 15-point lead in the first half.

"The refs ... they did their jobs I guess, but (that's) not NCAA basketball."

The Aggies, of the Western Athletic Conference, missed two 3-point attempts in the final 5 seconds.

No. 10 Georgia Tech 64, No. 7 Oklahoma State 59: Gani Lawal scored 14 points, Derrick Favors had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Georgia Tech (23-12) scored its last 13 points at the line to hold off Oklahoma State (22-11) at Milwaukee.

No. 2 Ohio State 68, No. 15 UC Santa Barbara 51: Jon Diebler scored 23 points, and Dallas Lauderdale blocked a career-high eight shots and grabbed 12 rebounds as Ohio State (28-7) beat UC Santa Barbara (20-10) at Milwaukee.

No. 4 Maryland 89, No. 13 Houston 77: Jordan Williams set career highs with 21 points and 17 rebounds as Maryland (24-8) beat Houston (19-16) at Spokane, Wash.

SOUTH REGION

No. 5 Texas A&M 69, No. 12 Utah State 53: When Texas A&M guard Derrick Roland broke his leg in December it forced some drastic changes for the Aggies, including freshman Khris Middleton moving into the starting lineup.

He played OK, then averaged a solid 15 points in three Big 12 tournament games.

But Middleton erupted for a career-high 19 points as Texas A&M crushed Utah State at Spokane, Wash.

"Going into the game, I was a little nervous," the 6-foot-7 Middleton said. "But as we started, I was less nervous and just played."

Middleton made 7 of 10 shots, including 5 of 6 3-point attempts, in 25 minutes. He came in averaging 7.0 points per game.

Middleton scored 14 points in the first half as Texas A&M (24-9) built a 42-29 advantage. The WAC's Utah State (27-8) never got untracked, shooting 38 percent well below their season average of 49 percent .

"We haven't played anybody as good as Texas A&M," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "Texas A&M physically dominated us."

No. 4 Purdue 72, No. 13 Siena 64: Keaton Grant ignited a 20-3 run with 11 points to begin the second half, and Purdue (28-5) rallied past Siena (27-7) at Spokane, Wash. Purdue's JuJuan Johnson scored 23 points and tied his career high with 15 rebounds.

No. 1 Duke 73, No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44: Kyle Singler had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jon Scheyer scored 13 and Duke (30-5) rolled past Arkansas-Pine Bluff (18-16) at Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 8 California 77, No. 9 Louisville 62: Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson scored 21 points apiece and California (24-10) beat Louisville (20-13) at Jacksonville, Fla. Louisville, which trailed by 18 in the first half, trimmed the deficit to 62-58 with just over 7 minutes to go, but Robertson's 3-pointer steadied the Golden Bears.

WEST REGION

No. 3 Pittsburgh 89, No. 14 Oakland 66: Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown scored 17 points apiece and Pittsburgh (25-8) beat Oakland (26-9) at Milwaukee. The Panthers are making their ninth straight NCAA appearance and have advanced to the round of 16 in five of the previous eight.

No. 6 Xavier 65, No. 11 Minnesota 54: Jordan Crawford scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half and Xavier (25-8) beat Minnesota (21-14). Xavier advanced to the second round for the fourth straight year, this time under first-year coach Chris Mack.

No. 8 Gonzaga 67, No. 9 Florida State 60: Matt Bouldin scored 17 points as Gonzaga (27-6) beat Florida State (22-10). Steven Gray scored 15 points while Robert Sacre added 13 points and nine rebounds for the 'Zags.

No. 1 Syracuse 79, No. 16 Vermont 56: Wes Johnson had 18 points to lead five Orange players in double figures, and Syracuse (29-4) beat Vermont (25-10) at Buffalo, N.Y. Syracuse avenged a stunning overtime loss to Vermont in the 2005 tournament.

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