[to top of second column]
Prince wasn't even close, and Michigan State and its fans -- led by Johnson, the Spartan-in-chief -- began the celebration that's practically become a rite of spring.
"What's unique is it's been a little bit more bumpy road," Izzo said.
Bumpy? More like missing big chunks of asphalt.
While Izzo is a master at reloading on the fly, this might have been his toughest test. In addition to Lucas' injury, Delvon Roe is playing on a torn meniscus and Chris Allen is nursing an aching foot.
The Spartans have been forced to go with an offense-by-committee but, somehow, it works. Durrell Summers, who's taken over the bulk of the scoring, finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting despite playing just 9 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Morgan and Draymond Green added 13 each, and Morgan also had 10 rebounds.
"Things happen throughout the season," Summers said. "Once we got to tournament time, we said we'll have a fresh start."
Tennessee, meanwhile, will have to take comfort in knowing it got further than any other Volunteers team. This was their first appearance in the regional finals, and there is no question they belonged. They made their first six shots of the game -- going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, shot 51 percent overall and had four players in double figures, led by senior Wayne Chism's 13 points.
Prince finished with 12 on 5-of-5 shooting, and Williams had 11.
"It's going to stick with us," senior Bobby Maze said. "Anytime we watch college games or during tournament time, we'll always come back to that very moment where we were just too short."
Tennessee has long been a basketball powerhouse -- in women's hoops. But coach Bruce Pearl has energized the men's program, as evidenced by the orange-hued dome and the Vols' first appearance in the regional final. Few would have thought the Tennessee men would last longer than the top-seeded women, who were beaten by No. 4 Baylor on Saturday in the regional semifinals.
"We came to St. Louis expecting to win two games and we played pretty well both nights," Pearl said. "We saw all that orange out there. This isn't close to home, either. They got in their car and they drove here. I think they enjoyed this group tremendously."
Though they were going against a team that oozes experience -- "Final Fours are a big thing in this program," Green said Saturday -- the Vols came in with swagger and strut.
But confidence is no match for toughness, and few can match that of Michigan State.
"I said (before the game), 'You put yourself in a position where you have a chance to do something you talked about,'" Izzo said. "Not many people get a chance to do that."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Sports index
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor