‘Tum Tum’ Nairn honored on Senior Night
Playing his final game for the nationally number two ranked Michigan State Spartans in the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan, Bahamian Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. went scoreless in 24 minutes of play, but was filled with emotions throughout as he was honored in front of an adoring crowd on ‘Senior Night’.
Nairn and the Spartans have one final regular season game remaining before moving on to the Big Ten Conference Championships and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. They travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in a nationally televised game on Sunday. On Tuesday, they slammed the Illinois Fighting Illini, 81-61.
For Nairn, it was all about going out with a bang on ‘Senior Night’. He was satisfied with a Spartans victory, and thrilled that they were able to execute as a team against a Big Ten opponent.
“It was the best. Unbelievable…. something I couldn’t even dream of or imagine,” said Nairn to reporters after the game. “I am so thankful for the opportunity that God placed in front of me. I am so happy for the program and our team. We stood together and that is what Spartans always do. Illinois is always a tough team. We had 25 turnovers when we played at their house, so we knew we had to take care of the ball. I had a couple turnovers early. In the second half, I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball and making smarter plays. We just have to play smarter, continue to play harder on defense and take care of the basketball….. focus on executing the game plan and we will get the job done. We just have to take care of business.”
Being honored after the game along with fellow seniors Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter was a nostalgic feeling for Nairn, who spent his last four years at Michigan State. He knelt at center court after the game and kissed the Spartans logo, and also lifted the Big Ten regular season championship trophy with teammate Miles Bridges at center court. Tuesday’s win sealed at least a tie for the regular season title for the Spartans, and it came on ‘Senior Night’, which was made even more special for Nairn with his mother Monalisa McKinney in the stands.
“I dreamt of kissing the Spartan head. Having the opportunity to raise the banner, the trophy, and having my mom here, my teammates…. it was an unbelievable experience. I am so humbled,” said Nairn.
The Spartans (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) were ahead just 38-35 at the half, but scored the first 12 points of the second half and rolled away from the Fighting Illini. Sophomore guard/forward Bridges scored 19 points to lead three players in double figures. Joshua Langford had 16, and Cassius Winston dropped in a dozen and added five assists.
Nairn, in his third year as captain of the team, has had to share starting duties with Winston running the point this season. Spartans’ Head Coach Tom Izzo always speaks highly of Nairn, and credits his leadership with a lot of success that they’ve had on the court.
“What an incredible night. You know, everybody said what happened the first half? Well, a couple things happened. We had seven turnovers in the first and I think we had four in the first few minutes. I was surprised. I think Tum (Nairn Jr.) was so excited that he was just going at a warped speed and that kind of hurt a little bit,” said Izzo afterwards. “I’ve been really, really, really excited about [what] Cassius (Winston) has learned from him. I watched him today in practice in our walk-through, he’s starting to develop some of those same camaraderie, some of the same togetherness characteristics that Tum has. That’s what Tum is; he’s infectious. I just think it’s amazing the humility that Miles has and Tum (Nairn Jr.) has, and it kind of branches out to our whole team. I think they are role models. I think they are kids that people should look up to and that’s pretty awesome.”
The Fighting Illini got 20 points from Leron Black and 14 from Trent Frazier on Tuesday night. They shot just 32.7 percent from the field compared to 47.1 percent for the Spartans.
Nairn leads all current Spartans players with 65 career starts, and is regarded as one with incredible leadership qualities, perhaps one of the best leaders in Michigan State history.
He will now lead the Spartans into the Big Ten Conference Championships which will be held from February 28 to March 4, at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. The NCAA tournament is set for a week later.