EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Kalin Lucas has practically lived in a gym at Michigan State recently, and he’s found a home as a sensational scorer.
The lighting-quick guard continued his offensive surge, scoring 22 points to lead the eighth-ranked Spartans to a 75-62 win over the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.
“Morning, noon and night, I’ve been coming in to get a lot of shots up,” Lucas said. “I’ve just been shooting, shooting and shooting even before and after practice.”
Spartans coach Tom Izzo is pleased the hard work has paid off.
“It’s always fun when guys put something into it and get something out of it,” Izzo said. “If he continues to grow, he’s going to put himself in a good position and us, too.”
Michigan State (13-2) has won nine straight since getting routed by North Carolina, 27 in a row at the Breslin Center over nearly two years and 39 consecutive against nonconference opponents at home since 2003.
“The thing that makes this one of the best home courts is the way they’re coached, their talent level and their fans,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who visited East Lansing when he was leading Illinois. “This is a team, from the outside looking in, that Tom thinks has a serious chance. After watching them play well in the first half, I would have no reason to dispute that.”
Izzo, meanwhile, was impressed with how Kansas (11-4) has competed with 10 players who are freshmen or sophomores.
“They’re going to be awfully good, still this year, but really good in the future,” Izzo said. “If that isn’t a Top 25 team, I don’t know what is. That’s a very good team. We’ve played a lot of ranked teams and they’re every bit as good.”
Sherron Collins, one of just two current players who had an impact on last season’s national championship team, scored 11 of his 25 points on free throws.
“He made you foul him and kept going to the basket like a bowling ball,” Michigan State guard Travis Walton said.
Cole Aldrich, the other significant returning Jayhawk, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“Collins and Aldrich are as good of a twosome as we’ve faced and will face,” Izzo said.
The duo didn’t get much help.
Reserve Tyrel Reed, who scored 10, was the only other player who scored more than five points.
Freshman Tyshawn Taylor scored just two points in 19 minutes.
“He’s gone from being maybe one of the best freshmen in our league to not being effective lately,” Self said. “Maybe he’s hit the wall.”
Junior guard Mario Little fouled out in 7 scoreless minutes, struggling to come back from injuries that might lead to a medical redshirt. Freshmen Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, twin forwards, combined for just six points in part because Markieff fouled out in just 14 minutes.
“Markieff is closer than Marcus, but he thinks he’s a championship wrestler the way he mauls everybody,” Self said.
The Jayhawks play Kansas State on Tuesday night at home, where they’ve won 33 straight, in their Big 12 opener.
“I didn’t think we’d be great by the time conference play started,” Self said. “But I still think we can have a really good season.”
Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan had 13 points and eight rebounds and Walton scored 11 to complement Lucas, who is averaging 20-plus points over the past four games.
“Lucas is a fabulous player,” Self said.
The Spartans were sluggish early, falling behind 7-1 and 11-6, before taking over.
Lucas’ 3-pointer started a 19-1 run and Walton’s jumper ended it, putting Michigan State ahead 25-12. Kansas was scoreless for 6-plus minutes and held without a field goal for 9 1/2 minutes during the pivotal period of the game.
“We missed a few we should have made and let them get up,” Collins said. “If we’d played the first half the way we did the second, we could have gotten the win.”
Lucas ended the half with a left-handed runner to give the Spartans a 37-18 lead and he had 13 points at halftime.
“I thought we played great the first 5 minutes,” Self said. “From the 15-minute mark, we played as poorly as we can play.
“We stunk and they made us look bad.”
Goran Suton opened the second half with a jumper for a 21-point lead, but the young Jayhawks wouldn’t go away quietly.
Collins, who missed some time in the first half with a bloody nose, scored six straight points to pull Kansas within 12.
Michigan State led by 20 midway through the second half, but Collins made a layup that made it 63-54 with 3:12 left.
“They’re young and they could’ve collapsed in the second half, but they didn’t,” Izzo said. “At the same time, you have to give us a little blame. When are we going to finish games?”
With Lucas dribbling and shooting free throws, the Spartans will probably close games well most of the time.
They sealed the win with Lucas’ free throws, two of which came after a Harlem Globetrotter-like sequence in which he dribbled in circles around the Jayhawks before they finally could foul him.
“He’s fast and real quick,” Collins said. “I tip my hat to him.”
The game was officiated for the last 24-plus minutes by two officials because veteran referee Steve Welmer limped off the court with an injured right foot.