Guards taking over in USC-MSU

March, 22, 2009
03/22/09
6:41
PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS - USC's guards proved they could carry the load without big man Taj Gibson, but Michigan State's backcourt isn't too shabby, either.

After Kansas center Cole Aldrich made history in Game 1, the guards have taken control for Michigan State and USC.

Travis Walton freely admits he's in the game for his defense, but the Michigan State senior guard has found his stroke with 10 first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting. He doesn't want to become the first Tom Izzo recruit to go four years without reaching a Final Four.

Fellow guards Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers and Chris Allen have combined for 17 points and five assists to help the Spartans to a 40-37 halftime edge.

Gibson has been a nonfactor so far, saddled with two fouls and no points. He overcame foul trouble in the first round against Boston College, but you have to wonder if USC can win without more production from its star forward. Even when Gibson has been in the game, Michigan State's Goran Suton (five points, seven rebounds) is making it awfully difficult for him inside.

If Trojans guards Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis are tired, they're not showing it. After playing all 40 minutes against Boston College, Hackett and Lewis didn't leave the floor in the first half.

Hackett has been a different player since halftime of the BC game, and he tallied 11 points and four assists against Michigan State.

The pace seems to favor Michigan State in the long run, but if USC gets Gibson involved, it should be right there at the end. USC has been a second-half team throughout its six-game win streak.

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