Spartan Hoopla: Can Korie Lucious Thrive in Kalin Lucas' Absence?
With the recent ankle injury to Michigan State's star point guard Kalin Lucas looming, the Spartans will be forced to throw 5'11" sophomore Korie Lucious into the fire.
Lucious, Michigan State's (19-4, 9-1) No. 2 guard, is a lot like his foreman Lucas. Lucious has the speed, he has the shot, but does he have the stomach?
With a road trip coming this weekend in Champaign-Urbana, Lucious may be needed to hold the offense together while Lucas mends his wounds.
Averaging just 5.2 points in 21 minutes per game, Izzo's sophomore will have to transform almost overnight into State's leader pro-tempore. As a point guard, it goes with the territory.
Sparty is 5-3 on the road, recently dropping its last visit in Madison to the surging Wisconsin Badgers. A road win is a must if the Spartans want to maintain their hold on the league.
Key components of Izzo's roster aren't producing much, namely Chris Allen. His disappearing act after his stellar frosh-showing is raising questions, one being: Is he all he was billed to be? The shooting slump that doesn't go unmentioned by Spartan fans is holding the team back.
Another question surrounding Allen is this: Why does he clock 30 minutes a game when he doesn't add to the stat columns?
Michigan State is known for its great guard play; Lucious will either sink or swim in State's upcoming tests.
Not only will the Spartans face another road evaluation in Illinois, but the Purdue Boilermakers are coming to town in just under a week. With Lucas out of the equation and struggling play from his big men, Izzo may be in for quite a surprise when he takes on two of the Big Ten's elite.
Four losses will be good enough to win the conference; that's been the barometer over the last decade. If Michigan State continues its season without Lucas and drops crucial matchups to Illinois and Purdue, it could spell disaster.
Lucious' speed and defense are a plus, so Izzo's game plan won't change much without "Too Easy."
One thing that Lucious does bring to the table is his willingness to enter the gauntlet. Lucious was handy in last year's tournament, at times looking beyond his years as a freshman.
Lucious' main role will not be scoring, it will be setting others up for buckets. Accurately threading the needle, Lucious dishes out about four assists per contest. Look for a lot of back door looks from him, as that's his strength. With his great dribble penetration, he's capable of drawing defenders in, then kicking it out. His points per game average is deceiving; Lucious can score, it just won't be what he'll be expected to do primarily.
Look for Lucious to log "Lucas-esque" minutes on Saturday. He'll run the floor for close to 36 minutes, giving him a chance to prove that Spartan basketball doesn't revolve around his injured teammate.
Raymar Morgan, Izzo's calling on you.
Delvon Roe, the same thing applies.
Draymond Green, your time is rapidly approaching.
Spartan basketball is more than a one-trick pony, and with the amount of talent on the team, someone's bound to have a performance that will dramatically increase their stock. Will it be young Lucious that answers the call?
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