March 28, 2010
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Raymar Morgan's free throw with less than 2 seconds left gave the Spartans a 70-69 victory over Tennessee in the Midwest Regional final Sunday, sending Michigan State to its sixth Final Four in 12 years and second in a row.
The fifth-seeded Spartans (28-8) led by as many as eight in the second half, but Brian Williams pulled Tennessee within 69-68 on a putback with 2:10 left. Korie Lucious, who took over as point guard after 2009 Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas ruptured his Achilles' tendon last weekend, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 29 seconds left and Scotty Hopson got the rebound.
Hopson was fouled at the other end, and made the first. But after a Michigan State timeout, he missed the second and Lucious -- generously listed at 5-foot-11 -- ended up with the rebound. Draymond Green fed the ball inside to Morgan, who got hacked by J.P. Prince with 1.8 seconds left. Morgan made the first and, after timeouts by both teams, missed the second -- on purpose.
Williams came up with the rebound but Prince fumbled the inbounds pass and had to heave up a prayer just before the buzzer.
"It's just tough, 1 second," Prince said. "You want to shoot it perfect but you've got to rush. You don't want it to come down to a half-court shot, but that's what it came down to."
Sixth-seeded Tennessee (28-9), meanwhile, will have to take comfort in knowing it got further than any other Volunteers team. This was their first appearance in the regional finals, and there is no question they belonged. They made their first six shots of the game -- going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, shot 51 percent overall and had four players in double figures, led by senior Wayne Chism's 13 points.
Prince finished with 12 on 5-of-5 shooting, and Williams had 11.
Tennessee has long been a powerhouse -- in women's hoops. But coach Bruce Pearl has energized the men's program, as evidenced by the orange-hued dome and the Vols' first appearance in the regional final.
Chism's 3-pointer put them up 50-45 with 15:46 left and prompted another roar from the thousands of Tennessee fans who had made the trek north. But come tournament time, the Spartans simply find a way to get it done. Cranking up the in-your-jersey defense that makes Big Ten opponents shudder, they held the Vols without a field goal for the next 7 1/2 minutes while ripping off a 14-1 run.
Chris Allen made a 3, and Summers converted a three-point play after being fouled on a jumper just inside the line. After Williams' free throw, Morgan scored on a layup and Lucious hit a 3-pointer to put the Spartans up 56-51 with 12:25 to play.
As a timeout was called, Lucious held up his right hand toward the Michigan State section as if to say, "Bring it on." Green then converted another three-point play, giving the Spartans a 59-51 lead, the largest of the game, with 11:42 to play.
But the Volunteers had one more run in them. Bobby Maze scored on a layup -- Tennessee's first field goal since 15:46 -- and Williams followed with two jumpers to put the Vols back on top, 62-61, setting up the frenetic finish.