Tom Izzo has his Spartans on the verge of his 14th straight NCAA tournament.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard. 

 

The MSU men’s basketball team took a step in the right direction Saturday night with a win over Illinois. The conquest avenged a 71-62 loss to the Illini on January 18th. The win couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as though it made the Spartans .500 in conference play. With a 13 year NCAAA tournament streak on the line, Tom Izzo’s team seems to be responding to the pressure. Izzo took to the podium on Monday for his weekly press conference. Notable excerpts include:

 

“They game played out as you saw, where I thought we were good defensively most of the game.”

 

“ It doesn’t change anything as far as the next game, its still a “big” game.”

 

“Kalin put the team on his back knowing Draymond was at half force.”

 

“We kind of forgot about Keith, most freshman hit the wall and we expect him to keep going.”

 

“ We have to find a way to get Keith the ball more, and play Keith at the point more.”

 

“ My biggest concern now is the fatigue factor because of the turnaround.”

 

“ He’s (Kalin Lucas) back to the best shape he was in since last year. There is no question about that.”

 

“ He (Durrell Summers) lets offense dictate his whole game.”

 

“ I think the players did a good job of rallying around him. (Durrell Summers)”

 

“ We still have our work cut out of us.”

 

The name of the game from here on out is to win at all costs. While still unranked, the Spartans seem to be coming together at a critical point of the season. Kalin Lucas is playing out of his mind, and is finally back to being the player we all knew he was capable of being. This is great to see, however basketball is a team sport. One player carrying a team can only get you so far. What the Spartans continue to lack is a consistent third option scorer. This is why the play of Durrell Summers is critical. Summers has been largely inconsistent and at some points non-existent in some of the biggest games this year. We all know the kind of player Durrell is capable of being, we just hope he regains his confidence and conquers his slump. The play of walk-on Mike Kebler must also be commended. Kebler provides solid minutes of the bench, and has really began to perfect the art of hitting the open jump shot. This team still has some fight left. They haven’t given up. They should be commended for weathering the storm.