The Washington Times - April 4, 2009, 07:08PM

DETROIT —- Welcome to Hack-A-Beet, a game where Michigan State‘s plethora of big men will manage little but fouling Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet.

Four Spartans have taken a seat with two fouls, including the ineffective Goran Suton (0 points), but no matter. The Man in the Plastic Mask —- Raymar Morgan —- is keeping Michigan State in the mix at the midpoint of the first national semifinal.


The Spartans have tried a lot of things, like going small or going with a whole line of reserves, and while nothing has looked especially great, they’ve still hung with Connecticut. One thing is clear: Tom Izzo trusts his bench much more than Jim Calhoun trusts his. Calhoun went to his eighth man only when foul trouble forced him to; Izzo had gone 11 deep by the time he came out of the first media timeout.

Nevertheless, it is anything but boring. There’s been near-fisticuffs, some great outside shooting from Michigan State’s Korie Lucious in the last few minutes of the half and a few demonstrations of Thabeet’s near-horizontal shot.

Michigan State’s pretty much made it a draw on the boards, which is a crucial development. So long as Connecticut isn’t going miss-rebound-basket, things can turn out favorably for the Spartans. Delvon Roe‘s basket in the closing seconds gives Izzo’s crew a two-point lead heading into the break

—- Patrick Stevens