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Summers becomes 'a man' in upset win

March 29, 2009

Senior forward Marquise Gray walks off the court of Lucas Oil Stadium with the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship trophy Sunday evening after the Spartans beat the Louisville Cardinals 64-52 earning them a seat in the Final Four.

Indianapolis — Remember the date: March 29, 2009.

The significance? It’s the day Durrell Summers became a man.

Summers, MSU’s soft-spoken sophomore guard, scored 10 points during a crucial stretch in the second half, fueling the Spartans past Louisville, 64-52, and into the Final Four.

“Durrell grew up today, he became a man,” senior guard Travis Walton said. “He did something in our huddle today that was bigger than them shots he hit, that was bigger than the defense he played: He showed some emotion. He showed some fire.”

Summers finished 4-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. He also snatched three rebounds, many of them coming in traffic. He finished the game with 12 points.

“I just stepped up with confidence,” Summers said. “The shots were there, I took them, and they fell, and I just kept going hard.”

Summers got MSU’s scoring surge going with a scintillating dunk after a Walton steal that put MSU up 41-36. From there, the Detroit native couldn’t seem to miss.

After drilling a trey from the right elbow to give MSU a nine-point lead, Summers howled like a wolf as he strutted down the court.

His teammates mauled him as he finally headed back to the sideline after Louisville called a timeout.

“That felt good, because that put us up even more, and I like our odds on defense,” said Summers, who will return home to Detroit for the Final Four. “That shot just
felt great, man.”

Pacemakers

If the Spartans wanted to make it through to Detroit, they knew they would first have to make it through Louisville’s vaunted full-court press.

The Spartans not only cracked the press, they made cracking it look rather easy.

MSU guards Kalin Lucas and Travis Walton took incredible care of the basketball, committing just five turnovers between the two guards. Most of their turnovers came once the team had already established itself in the half-court.

“We decided to put the ball in our best player’s hand(s) and bring the ball up against the pressure,” said senior Walton, referring to sophomore Lucas.

“If things (are) not going right, (we) put the ball in my hands or one of our other good guard’s hands. We can all kind of dribble the basketball.”

Louisville’s inability to fluster the Spartans early seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.

Instead of succumbing to the pressures of playing at Louisville’s frenetic pace, the Spartans imposed their style of play onto the Cardinals. They never rushed, never panicked, and never allowed the Cardinals to go on significant scoring runs.

MSU also utilized the presence of senior center Goran Suton, who, at 6-foot-10, was the tallest player on the court. When the Spartans broke the press, they often dumped it to Suton, who served as a safety net in the middle of Louisville’s zone.

“G in the middle was great,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “These guards did a great job of getting him the ball in there. That’s where we felt he could get it.”

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Midway through the first half, it was clear MSU’s stubbornness started to frustrate Louisville. Already trailing by five, the Cardinals scored just five points over the next seven minutes, allowing the Spartans to extend their lead to 15 with 5:50 to go.

The Cardinals made just one field goal during the stretch.

“In our press, they did well spacing us out,” Louisville guard Andre McGee said. “They had great guard play. A couple times they beat us in transition after we made shots.”

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