- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

DETROIT | No one guy was going to take down gargantuan Connecticut big man Hasheem Thabeet.

So Michigan State did what came naturally, deploying its remarkable depth to lock up a spot in the NCAA tournament final.

With a safety-in-numbers approach, the Spartans received contributions from all over their roster as they dispatched Connecticut 82-73 on Saturday before a partisan Final Four crowd of 72,456 at Ford Field.

Kalin Lucas scored 21 points and Raymar Morgan added 18 for Michigan State (31-6), which will meet the winner of Saturday’s late game between North Carolina and Villanova in Monday’s title game.

Lucas and Morgan were among 10 players to score for Michigan State, which knocked off its second No. 1 seed in as many games to reach its first final since 2000.

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun was dealt his first defeat in three Final Four appearances, and the Huskies (31-5) departed despite 16 points from the 7-foot-3 Thabeet, who was held in check for much of the second half.

Things unfolded much like Michigan State’s regional final rout of Louisville, building a modest halftime lead before taking control after the break. This time, though, the Spartans needed a little more time to put away their opponent.

Michigan State maintained a 58-54 lead before Draymond Green scored four straight points to double the edge. A few minutes later, sophomore Durrell Summers deposited a one-handed slam over the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson to give the Spartans their first double-digit lead.

As Connecticut fumbled away free throw opportunities when it wasn’t failing to funnel it to Thabeet, Morgan seemed to put the finishing touches on a rout with a dunk to make it 71-60.

Connecticut, though, uncorked a 9-1 run in less than a minute, capped with a Robinson dunk to close within 74-71. But Summers completed a three-point play with a minute left and grabbed a defensive rebound on Connecticut’s next time down the floor. The Huskies never got within a possession again.

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