EAST LANSING — Michigan State’s disappointing and sometimes bizarre basketball season took a marked downturn late Tuesday when junior guard Korie Lucious was kicked off the team.
Lucious was dismissed for the remainder of this season after an unspecified violation of team rules, according to a press release distributed by the Michigan State sports information department.
“Unfortunately, Korie Lucious displayed conduct detrimental to the program,” head coach Tom Izzo was quoted as saying in the statement. “My focus is on this team for the remainder of the season.”
Lucious, in the same statement, was quoted as saying that he “didn’t live up to the standards of the program.”
“Unfortunately, I let my teammates, my coaches, and myself down, and wish them the best for the season,” he was quoted as saying.
Michigan State sports information announced Lucious’ status via an e-mail distributed at 11:02 p.m.
A half-hour earlier, at 10:32, Lucious posted the following on the popular social-media site Twitter: “Man did I really mess up this time … off 2 the gym I go!”
Lucious’ dismissal came less than 48 hours before the Spartans host archrival Michigan in the first of their two games this season, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
At 11:32 p.m. Tuesday, a half-hour after the action against Lucious was announced, Michigan assistant coach Bacari Alexander — whether coincidentally or not — tweeted “I love our players. I really do! They have great character and they play for the right reasons. Can’t wait to watch them grow! Bright!!”
Lucious still has a year’s eligibility remaining. The press release specified that his dismissal was for the remainder of this season, but did not give specifics as to whether he definitely can return in 2011-12, or what the conditions for such a return might be.
There will be no additional comment from the university or the basketball program, according to the press release.
Lucious, a junior guard from Milwaukee, was a key component of the No. 25 Spartans’ rotation, and is best known for hitting a game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer in last year’s second-round NCAA tournament victory over Maryland.
His suspension is the latest hit for a 12-7 team that began the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason polls.
Lucious is the second key guard dismissed by Izzo since last season. Chris Allen, a regular starter on last year’s team, was kicked off the team in May, and subsequently transferred to Iowa State, where he redshirted this year and has one year’s eligibility remaining.
The Spartans have been beset by injuries that finally seemed to have healed at the time of Lucious’ dismissal, including six players who underwent offseason surgeries. One of those was Lucious, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in September.
Michigan State also has endured Derrick Nix’s weight gains and transfer threat which got him left home from the Maui Invitational and resulted in a two-month setback for the Spartans’ interior game, the spate of losses, Izzo’s own one-game NCAA suspension, and a variety of on-the-court performance and rotation issues.
Lucious played in all but one of the Spartans’ 19 games this season — he was suspended for the opener against Eastern Michigan following a conviction for reckless driving, after an initial drunken-driving charge was reduced — and his 24.4-minute average was fifth on the team.
Lucious’ 6.5-point scoring average also ranked fifth on the team, although he was mired in a terrible shooting slump recently. He shot 31.2 percent from the field, and 28.4 percent on 3-pointers, for the season.
He also averaged a team-high 4.1 assists per game, and had a team-best turnover-to-assists ratio of 1.95-1.