Morgan's game gets healthy at just the right time

The Associated PressApril 5, 2009 

— Raymar Morgan was Michigan State's best player before a bout of illnesses stunted his season.

He was back to his old self Saturday night.

Right on time.

Morgan had NCAA-Tournament highs with 18 points and nine rebounds, helping the second-seeded Spartans upset top-seeded Connecticut 82-73 in the Final Four.

"I thought Raymar Morgan came up big today," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

The Spartans will face North Carolina on Monday night -- in front of about 50,000 of their closest friends -- shooting for their third national title.

Before playing the Huskies, Izzo and some of his players said Morgan was going to be "the X-factor" in the game.

That proved to be true.

Morgan was aggressive from the start, scoring with low-post moves and attacking drives in the opening minutes.

He was 5-of-7 for 11 points in the first half as the Spartans led by two.

Morgan kept up the pressure, throwing down a backboard-rattling dunk late in the game while the Huskies failed to even cross half court to put up a fight.

Morgan finished 7- of-15 from the field.

Suddenly, the 6-foot-8 junior looked like the player Izzo and his teammates knew he could be before illnesses, a broken nose and his passive personality got in his way.

He was slowed in late January with walking pneumonia and mononucleosis and hadn't been the same since.

Until the Final Four.

He broke his nose in the round of 16 against Kansas, then was held scoreless in 10 minutes in the next round versus Louisville.

With a form-fitted mask and perfectly timed comeback, Morgan kept the Spartans driving in the Motor City.

Morgan had been held to single digits in six of the previous seven games heading into the Final Four.

But a trip to the title game on the line, Morgan came through for the homestate Spartans.

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