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Matchup between point guards Lucas, Collins pivotal

March 24, 2009

MSU men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo met with media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his team’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas. The No. 2-seeded Spartans (28-6) play No. 3 Kansas (27-7) at approximately 9:37 p.m. Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

This late in March, no team is fully reliant on one or two players.

Yet while Kansas has a lot of young, skilled players on its roster, there is no question that guard Sherron Collins (18.9 points per game) and center Cole Aldrich (14.8 ppg) make the team work.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo called Collins and Aldrich two of the best players at their positions in the country, but laid especially heavy praise on Collins.

“I watched a lot of Collins (Tuesday) morning, and if he isn’t the best guard in the country, he’s right there,” Izzo said.

In anticipation of MSU’s Sweet 16 game against Kansas at 9:37 p.m. Friday in Indianapolis, The State News breaks down one of the most intriguing individual matchups: MSU sophomore guard Kalin Lucas vs. Collins.

Scoring

Both Collins and Lucas (14.6 ppg) lead their team in scoring and each has carried his respective team on his back this season. Both have comparable shooting percentages — 43 percent for Collins, 39 percent for Lucas — but Collins has registered 119 more shots than Lucas. That, however, has been a necessity as Collins, with all due respect to Aldrich, has been the heart and soul of Kansas.

Edge — Collins

Distributing

Surprisingly, Collins (171) has more assists than Lucas (152). Not surprisingly, he also has 40 more turnovers. Lucas has more experienced talent around him than Collins, giving Lucas plenty of options when he drives into the lane.

Edge — Lucas

On the fast break

Izzo had it right: There is no question that point guard Ty Lawson, Lucas and Collins are the fastest guards in the country up and down the court. However, it goes in exactly that order.

Edge — Lucas

Intangibles

Lucas has led the Spartans to a great season. He’s only a sophomore with a bright future ahead of him. Collins isn’t necessarily a star, but he’s better known than Lucas. Plus he has national championship experience, with the assist on Mario Chalmers’ 3-pointer that set the 2008 National Championship into overtime.

Edge — Collins

Overall

Both are great players and both bring a much-needed dimension to their team, but Collins’ experience and ability to lead the surprising Jayhawks to the Sweet 16 this season after losing all five starters from last year’s team gives him the edge.

Edge — Collins

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