NCAA hoops: Michigan State plans for life without Kalin Lucas
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is relieved his banged-up team has four days off before its next game in the NCAA tournament.
Not that it will help Kalin Lucas.
Izzo told The Associated Press on Monday morning that there's a "90 percent chance" tests later in the day would confirm Lucas has a torn left Achilles' tendon that would keep him off the court for about five months.
"Even if it's just a sprain, he wouldn't play" Friday against Northern Iowa, Izzo said with a sigh.
Lucas' replacement, Korie Lucious, beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that lifted the fifth-seeded Spartans to an 85-83 win over fourth-seeded Maryland on Sunday.
Michigan State has advanced to the round of 16 for the ninth time in 13 seasons, a string of consistency topped in the NCAA tournament by only by Duke, and is two wins away from a nation-high sixth Final Four appearance since 1999. The Spartans will play ninth-seeded Northern Iowa in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Friday night in St. Louis, facing the team that knocked top-seeded Kansas out of their path.
"We can't look at whoever lost," Durrell Summers said after scoring 26 points to send the Spartans home happy from Spokane, Wash. "We got to advance and prepare for Northern Iowa."
Izzo hopes his team lost only Lucas.
Chris Allen was limited to just 4 minutes against the Terrapins because of an injury to the arch in his right foot, Delvon Roe hobbled on his surgically repaired right knee against them and Raymar Morgan played with a broken tooth.
"We've got a 'MASH' unit," Izzo said. "The bottom of Chris' foot is purple, Delvon is playing on one leg and Raymar looks like a hockey player with his tooth cut in half. We think we can get Chris back — after showing toughness we've never seen from him — and we'll hold Delvon out of practice to let him rest as much as we can."
With Lucas out, Lucious becomes a starter, walk-on Mike Kebler has to play more and versatile forward Draymond Green becomes even more valuable with the ball in his hands.
Lucas was hurt late in the first half, landing awkwardly after a shot, and did not return. He is a two-time All-Big Ten player and 2009 conference player of the year. He also leads the team in scoring — averaging nearly 15 points — assists and playing time.
The injured players are the same ones that drew Izzo's tough love this past season: The coach kicked Lucas out of a practice, suspended Allen during the Big Ten tournament and Lucious from a game at Penn State.
Now the Spartans will face the Panthers missing their star in Lucas and perhaps Allen.
"We're going to need everybody we have in uniform to step up," Izzo said. "There were times we had two walk-ons, a freshman and a sophomore on the court Sunday and that probably won't be the last time in the tournament. Northern Iowa is good, but thank God they're not a team that presses like Maryland."