It was a homecoming for Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn so good that it seemed to be ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script.
In his first meaningful game at home in years, Nairn tied his career high with 13 points and set a new career high with three three point field goals made last night in his Michigan State Spartans’ 73-62 win over the St. John’s Red Storm at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
His scoring night was highlighted by another first in his collegiate career, his first dunk in a game.
With the Spartans trailing 36-34 at the 16:48 mark in the third quarter, Nairn made a three and on the ensuing possession took the barely almost the full length of the court to finish with a tomahawk dunk over the Red Storms’ Tariq Owens.
“I was pushing the ball and I saw the lane wide open and I went up strong. I knew the big guy would be coming over to block it. I just decide I can get up and dunk it and I went for it,” he said
Even high flying Spartans forward Miles Bridges, who finished with a game high 22 points and 15 rebounds, was impressed by his point guard’s ability to finish with authority on the play.
Bridges had a dunk of his own that went viral the last time he was in the Bahamas on the Nike EBYL Circuit in 2015.
“That was way better than mine because Tum is shorter than me., I’m a big guy,” Bridges said, “He surprised me on that play, but he’s a very explosive guard so I expect a lot more of that out of him this season.”
Nairn shot 5-7 from the field including 3-4 from three point range and added four assists.
“I just want to help this team the best way I can, wherever coach needs me to be, whatever he needs me to do that’s what I’ll do. If I have to score, rebound, pass, play defence, whatever it is I’m just happy I can contribute and help my team win,” he said.
From the moment he was introduced in the starting lineups a packed crowd of visiting Spartans fans and local Bahamian supporters hung on every play Tum Tum made in the game.
Nairn’s previous career highs also came during the Thanksgiving weekend when he posted 13 points and eight assists against Boston College last season.
The junior point guard said he was eager to put on a show in front of his family and supporters who rarely get an opportunity to see him play.
“My grandmother is here watching, my grandfather is here watching. It’s just a blessing to be able to play in front of this crowd and I appreciate the support they showed me tonight,” he said.
Spartans head coach Tom Izzo said his co-captain’s aggressive nature was one of the catalysts to the team’s second half success.
“Tum had some open shots and he passed up a couple early which is kind of what we do, in the second half when he made one they were so fired up for him. He started pushing the ball and when he does that we’re a better team,” he said.
The No.24 ranked Spartans improved to 3-2 on the season and will face No.20 Baylor today. St. John’s will take on VCU on the opposite side of the bracket.