Michigan St. Smothers No. 1 Louisville In 64-52 Elite Eight Win
March 29, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Michigan State is marching on to Motown.
The Spartans gave the Final Four a hometown feel, stopping overall No. 1 seed Louisville 64-52 Sunday to win the Midwest Regional.
Goran Suton had 19 points and 10 rebounds as the second-seeded Spartans (30-6) reached their fifth Final Four in 11 years - the most trips of any team in the nation during that span.
Only 90 miles from their campus in East Lansing, the Spartans will play Connecticut on Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit. A crowd of 72,000, the largest ever for college basketball's signature event, is expected for each game.
"Detroit, here we come," said coach Tom Izzo, a Michigan native. "I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that."
The Spartans made it 30 years after Magic Johnson led them to a national title over Larry Bird and Indiana State.
"Detroit needs something, Michigan needs something to feel good about," said Johnson, who was at the game. "And right now, the whole state is feeling good about this Michigan State team."
Along with advancing, the Spartans prevented a Big East blitz in the Final Four - Louisville (31-6) was trying to become the third school from the power-packed conference to make it.
The Cardinals scored 103 points in overwhelming Arizona in the regional semifinal, but barely reached half that total against a rugged, defensive-minded squad. Earl Clark scored 19 points, but coach Rick Pitino's team played without the precision or passion it had Friday night.
Louisville lost for the first time in 14 games. It was the second straight year they were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the regional final.
Suton carried the Spartans early, scoring 17 points in the first half, and Durrell Summers delivered 10 second-half points.
"They prepared so well the past day and a half," Izzo said. "I didn't know if we could beat them but I thought we had a chance."
It went nothing like Louisville expected.
The Cardinals allowed Michigan State to dictate the pace with their deliberate half-court style, and Louisville's vaunted pressure defense produced no fastbreak points.
Instead, Michigan State relied on its physical style and finally broke the Cardinals.
After going 28 minutes without either team taking more than a three-point lead, the Cardinals broke down.
Louisville came back from a 30-27 halftime deficit to take a 34-32 lead with 15:33 to go.
But the Spartans answered with the first big run of the day, outscoring Louisville 9-2 over a two-minute span for a 41-36 lead.
The Spartans were just getting started.
Michigan State took advantage of the Cardinals poor free-throw shooting to go on a 17-7 run that made it 58-43 with 5:50 to go.
That forced Louisville to rush its offense into bad shots, and with Louisville's rebounders out of position, Michigan State dominated.
The Cardinals made only one basket in the last 5:18 and shot just 38.3 percent from the field.