I’ve decided not to post any commentary of a forward-looking nature until we get over to the new site. For now, let’s revel in the season that has been.
One of the things that made this season so special was the number of guys who stepped up at various times during the season to get the team to 31 wins, despite multiple injuries disrupting the regular lineup during the season. For the season, nine different players led the team in scoring at least once, seven different players led the team in rebounding at least once, and five different players led the team in assists at least once (including ties in all three cases).
To look back at some of those contributions, I’ve put together a list of the top ten individual performances over the course of the season. I’ve split the list into five regular season performances and five postseason performances.
Regular Season Performances
5. Raymar Morgan vs. Oklahoma State
29 points on 9-11 FG shooting and 11-13 FT shooting, 5 rebounds
Few MSU fans got to see this game, after MSU dropped the opener in the Old Spice Classic, but Morgan put up some huge numbers against a team that would eventually make the NCAA Tournament.
4. Delvon Roe at Michigan
14 points on 5-7 FG shooting, 10 rebounds
From the game recap: “Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.”
3. Kalin Lucas at Illinois
18 points on 7-14 FG shooting, 4 assists, 1 turnovers
You could put Lucas on this list as many times as you wanted, but we’ll go with his extremely efficient performance in MSU’s best win of the Big Ten season. That performance included a layup Lucas created out of nothing to put MSU ahead 60-58 with 5 minutes go after Illinois had rallied from a 7-point second-half deficit.
2. Durrell Summers at Ohio State
26 points on 6-9 three-point shooting, 4 rebounds
From the game recap: “The tale of the first half was Durrell Summers single-handedly keeping the team afloat, scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points as the rest of the team struggled with turnovers and 3-point shooting against the Ohio State 3-2 zone.”
1. Goran Suton vs. Wisconsin
16 points on 6-6 FT shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
From the game recap: “Suton was a warrior. After not starting the game (apparently to reward Tom Herzog–he of the graceful reverse layup–for his hard work in practice), Suton posted 16 points and 10 rebounds–most of them in the second half. He pulled down a couple huge offensive rebounds, as did Raymar Morgan (5 rebounds in 17 minutes), during the comeback from 12 down. Give Suton credit for keeping his composure after the airballed 3-pointer (his third 3-point miss of the game) and leading the team to victory.”
Honorable Mention: Travis Walton’s back-to-back 16-point performances at the Old Spice Classic. Marquise Gray’s back-to-back 12-point performances in the same setting. Suton’s 18-point performance against Texas in just his second game back from the knee injury. Morgan’s 22-point/13-rebound performance against Northwestern to help MSU open the conference season with two road wins. Chris Allen’s 17-point performance (on 4-7 three-point shooting) in the same game, against the 1-3-1 zone. Lucas’ 21-point performance against Purdue in the regular season finale. And just for Mrs. SW: Austin Thornton’s 9-point performance (on 3-3 three-point shooting) in the opener against Idaho.
5. Goran Suton vs. North Carolina
17 points on 3-4 three-point shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
While the outcome of the game was a disappointment, let’s not forget Suton went toe to toe with one of the most celebrated post players in the history of college basketball and matched him almost play for play.
4. Kalin Lucas vs. Kansas
18 points on 7-7 FT shooting, 7 assists, 4 steals
From the game recap: “Kalin Lucas could not be any more clutch.” I think this play will forever pop into my head whenever I hear the phrase “and one.”
3. Raymar Morgan vs. UConn
18 points on 7-13 FG shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 steals
From the game recap: “Raymar Morgan played the best game of his career . . . against the very epitome of the kind of tall, athletic opponent he normally struggles against. I thought his confidence would melt away after he had his first shot of the game blocked by Thabeet, but MSU retained the ball (on a team rebound) and Morgan came right back and knocked down a shot. From there, his confidence swelled.”
2. Goran Suton vs. Louisville
19 points on 3-5 three-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists
From the game recap: “Tom Izzo’s game plan in the half-court offense was to put Suton in the middle of the top two defenders in Louisville’s 2-3 zone and use Suton’s shooting/passing skills to break down the defense. Suton responded beautifully, almost single-handedly keeping MSU even with the Cardinals through the first 20 minutes. On defense, he completely shut down Samardo Samuels. On his first three touches of the ball in the post, Samuels traveled, missed a shot, and got called for an offensive foul. Samuels never bounced back and went scoreless for the game.”
1. Travis Walton vs. USC
18 points on 8-13 FG shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals
From the game recap: “On the first possession of the game–when USC came out employing the box and one–Walton got the ball about 18 feet from the basket in an open spot in the zone. Usually, you’d expect him to hesitate at least briefly before shooting the ball so early in the game. But, instead, he immediately squared up and knocked down the shot. From their, his confidence ballooned; eventually he knocked down a couple shots where he had to adjust the arc of the shot due to an onrushing USC defender.”
Honorable Mention: Chris Allen’s 17-point performance against Minnesota in the conference tournament. Korie Lucious’ 16-point performance to try to mount a comeback against Ohio State in the conference tournament. Draymond Green’s 16-point performance against Robert Morris. Suton’s 20-point/9-rebound performance against Kansas. Lucas’ 21-point/5-assist performance against UConn.
Who would have thought that Travis Walton, of all players, would end up making having arguably the key offensive performance of the entire season? And we’re not even talking about his defense. The games in which he locked down A.J. Abrams, Manny Harris, and A.J. Price could have easily been included on the lists above.
Coffee Talk: What do all of you think? Which performance merits top billing? What great individual performances did I miss?