Michigan St. 106, UMass 68

Can’t get with program

UMass throttled by No. 2 Spartans

By Chuck Betson
Globe Correspondent / November 29, 2009

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ATLANTIC CITY - After struggling and clawing against Rutgers 24 hours earlier, the University of Massachusetts ran into a green-and-white wall last night at Boardwalk Hall in the form of the second-ranked Michigan State Spartans in the consolation game of the Legends Classic.


The competitive mismatch played out as expected: Michigan State 106, UMass 68.

The Spartans had been upset by Florida, 77-74, Friday night and they were ready to take out their aggression on the Minutemen. The victory was No. 341 for Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, making him the winningest coach in school history.

“The kids gave me a plaque after the game and it indicated 341 - a footnote in the sand,’’ said Izzo, who passed Jud Heathcote. “I was touched. I guess Jud and I have 681 wins combined now but we’re still 300 wins behind Bobby Knight.’’

Michigan State (5-1) had five players in double figures, led by 18 points from Chris Allen and 17 from Raymar Morgan. Kalin Lucas added 16.

Anthony Gurley paced UMass (2-4) with 24 points and Ricky Harris had 15.

“That’s a Final Four program we just played and a program we’d like to be like here someday,’’ said UMass coach Derek Kellogg.

“You saw two programs at different levels out there tonight. The outcome was not acceptable to lose by as many points as we did. But at least we got a look at how it is supposed to be.’’

The 106 points were the 11th-most allowed in school history and the most given up by the Minutemen since Penn State scored 107 in 1989.

It was the fifth straight loss for UMass at Boardwalk Hall. The last time UMass won here was Jan. 7, 1995, when it beat La Salle, 87-64, behind Lou Roe, who attended Atlantic City High.

Different team, different era of UMass basketball.

If this game was a boxing match, it would have been stopped when Michigan State led, 91-54, with 8:07 remaining. The lead ballooned to 101-60 with 3:26 left.

“We just have to go back to the gym and go back to the weight room and get better,’’ said Harris. “There is still a lot of season left.’’

UMass held an 8-2 lead less than three minutes into the game but Michigan State went on a 16-0 run. The spurt grew to 29-3, and the Spartans took a 55-38 lead into halftime. Curley (18) and Harris (13) combined for all but 7 of the Minutemen’s points in the first half.

UMass held a 17-15 rebounding advantage at the break, but the Spartans turned that around and finished with a 39-32 edge.

In the championship game, Florida (6-0) used a 15-4 second-half run to beat Rutgers, 73-58.