DAYTON, Ohio — Thursday was the third anniversary. Korie Lucious got tweets and texts about it during the day.
As a Michigan State sophomore, Lucious shot into the national sporting spotlight on March 21, 2010. He caught a pass from Draymond Green, gave a slight head-fake to a much-taller Maryland defender, took one dribble to his left, and fired an open 3-pointer. It left his fingers with four-tenths of a second left in Michigan State’s second-round NCAA tournament game against the Terrapins and was all net.
The Spartans won, 85-83. A week later, they were on their way back to the Final Four.
“Everybody talks about it a lot,” Lucious said Thursday. “But it’s old. I’m just trying to do something productive now.”
Lucious is now a 23-year-old, fifth-year senior trying to get Iowa State some future warm memories. The Cyclones face Notre Dame Friday night in second-round NCAA play at the University of Dayton Arena.
“As long as we play our game, I think we’ll be all right,” Lucious said. “If I bring the intensity early, the guys will follow.”
Hearing Lucious called a leader might invite sarcasm from Michigan State fans, but the player was good more often than not in helping ISU to an 11-7 Big 12 record.
Lucious averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 assists and about a 2-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio after a slow start before New Year’s.
What they remember in East Lansing — besides the shot against Maryland — is MSU Coach Tom Izzo kicking Lucious off the squad midway through his junior season for what the coach called “conduct detrimental to the program.”
This was a player who participated in 11 NCAA tourney games in two seasons for Michigan State, who played 61 minutes and scored 37 points over three Final Four games.
But it also was someone who had a 2011 DUI charge that was knocked down to misdemeanor reckless driving. Izzo suspended him for two games. It also was someone suspended one game by Izzo the season before for missing a class.
Fred Hoiberg added Lucious to his Iowa State program. Another former Spartan, Chris Allen, had already signed on with ISU. He had a fine senior season in Ames last year.
Lucious never claimed he was wronged. “I didn’t live up to the standards of the program,” he said at the time. “Unfortunately, I let my teammates, my coaches, and myself down.”
Three years after that 2010 Final Four, Lucious is back in the NCAA tourney. He’s running the offense. He must do better than he did at last week’s Big 12 tourney, when he went a combined 2-for-18 from the field in a win over Oklahoma and a loss to Kansas.
A hip problem bothered Lucious in Kansas City. “My side-to-side movement is not what I want it to be,” he said. “But I’m not really hurting like I was last week.”
Notre Dame starts three guards, two of them 6-foot-5. One, Jerian Grant, is a player Lucious will probably have to defend. Lucious is 5-11.
So he is banged-up player with a decided height disadvantage who is in a shooting slump. But he’s also someone who has gotten it done on postseason stages bigger than any of his teammates or Fighting Irish foes have known.
This week, Hoiberg called Lucious to his office for a chat.
“He brought me in and told me he still had confidence in me,” Lucious said. “He’s been through it himself. He told me he was 2-for-20-something at the Big 12 tournament. He bounced back at the NCAA tournament.”
Iowa State beat Missouri and Kansas at the 1995 Big 8 tourney before losing to Oklahoma State in the final.
“I was 1-for-16 against Missouri and 3-for-16 against Kansas,” Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t play much worse.”
But then he scored 15 points in ISU’s 64-61 first-round NCAA win over Florida.
The Cyclones needed Hoiberg in those NCAAs. They need Lucious now.
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