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Suton comes up big in second half

February 22, 2009

Senior center Goran Suton starts to shoot the ball while Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry attempts to block him during Sunday’s game at Breslin Center. Suton was the second leading scorer on the team with 16 points. The Spartans defeated the Badgers 61-50.

Photo by Angeli Wright | The State News

To characterize Goran Suton’s performance Sunday as a tale of two halves would be a colossal understatement.

In the first half, the senior center scored just two points and drew the ire of MSU head coach Tom Izzo for camping out on the perimeter and settling for outside shots.

During the second half, he scored 14 points to lead his team back from a 12-point deficit and help it defeat Wisconsin 61-50.

“Coach told (Suton) at halftime he’s got to be more aggressive, he wasn’t playing that aggressive in the first half,” sophomore guard Kalin Lucas said. “In the second half he came out playing very aggressively and he played harder and it showed.”

Suton’s performance in the second half was borderline heroic. He rescued several MSU possessions with offensive rebounds, made a pair of three-point plays and hit big shots to get MSU over the hump.

His layup with 5:13 left tied the game at 45 and his free throws a minute later gave MSU its first lead since 2-0.

Suton finished the game with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive glass.

Despite his second half renaissance, Izzo said he still wasn’t thrilled with Suton.

“As happy as I am for him, don’t think G’s off the hook,” Izzo said. “He’s got skills and the ability to do a lot of things, and somehow I’m gonna get that out of him.”

Herzog starts

After Tuesday’s loss to Purdue, Izzo crossed paths with sophomore center Tom Herzog in the hallway.

Immediately, Izzo realized he had made a mistake. Despite clearing nearly his entire bench during the blowout loss, he had forgotten to summon his 7-footer into the game.

Right then and there, Izzo promised to make amends to the Flint native.

“I apologized to him after and told him I was starting him the next game,” Izzo said. “I did and he scored and it was great. Maybe it will give him a boost. It gave us a boost.”

Herzog, who upon entering the game had played just 25 minutes all season, got his first career start against the Badgers. When his name was announced by public address announcer, his teammates went bonkers.

But the excitement paled in comparison to the way the crowd exploded at the 18:29 mark, when Herzog broke a scoreless tie with a crafty reverse layup.

As he sprinted back on defense, he pounded his chest to the crowd’s delight.

Moments later, he checked out of the game and was replaced by Suton, the normal starter.

Big Ten impact

With Purdue nipping on their heels, some players called Sunday’s contest a “must-win” game.

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Among those players was sophomore guard Chris Allen, who drained a back-breaking 3-pointer to with less than three minutes left to put MSU ahead by five points.

“This was a must-win game considering we had just lost,” Allen said.

“Purdue is hot, they’ve won (four) in a row, so it was must-win and a great win.”

Others, like senior guard Travis Walton, said it was just another game for the Spartans, who would have slipped into a first-place tie with the Boilermakers had they lost.

“If we had lost the game today, we would have still been on top and controlled our own destiny,” Walton said. “We don’t dictate what Purdue’s doing. They’ve got to win their games and we’ve got to win our games. We’ve just got to continue to take care of our business and play better.”

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