Jan. 12, 2013
THE OPENING TIP
Coming off a grinding three-point win at Iowa, Michigan State returns home to host Nebraska. The Spartans are a perfect 10-0 at Breslin Center this season. The Huskers, led by first-year head coach Tim Miles, are making their second trip to Michigan this week, having played in Ann Arbor on Wednesday.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Dawson's Recovery
Given the fact that Branden Dawson had ACL surgery just last March (two days after suffering the injury), it's remarkable that he has not missed even a single practice this season. Over the last two games, he seems to have elevated his play to another level, averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in wins over Purdue and Iowa. In his most recent game, he scored a career-high 17 points at Iowa. On the season, he ranks third on the team in scoring (10.4 ppg), third in rebounding (6.1 rpg), and third in minutes played (26.9 mpg). Still, it's tough to make up for missing the entire summer both in terms of conditioning and skill development.
2. Too Many Turnovers
One early area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 15.1 per game, including four games with 19 or more. MSU's primary ballhandler, Keith Appling, is averaging just 2.4 per contest, posting a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. In Big Ten play, however, MSU has done a much better job, averaging 12.7 per conference game, including 12 in each of the last two games.
3. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 320-45 (.877) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 164-34 (.828) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 246-30 (.891) at Breslin, including a 123-21 (.854) conference record. MSU has won 27 of the last 28 games at Breslin.
4. Appling On Cousy List
Keith Appling is one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation's top point guard. Appling leads the Spartans in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (4.4 apg), and is one of four Big Ten point guards on the list as he is joined by Michigan's Trey Burke, Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Minnesota's Andre Hollins.
5. Improved 3-Point Shooting
Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last three games, the Spartans are shooting .432 (16-of-37) from behind the arc, ranking second in the Big Ten. The high percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Gary Harris (.556; 10-of-18) and Travis Trice (.500; 5-of-10) in conference action.
MSU VS. NEBRASKA NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 10-6, including a 5-1 advantage in games played in East Lansing. The two teams met six times between 1988 and 1994, but did not meet again until the 2011-12 season.
Tim Miles (University of Mary, '89) is 292-227 in his 18th season as a collegiate head coach, including 9-7 in his first season at Nebraska. Prior to his arrival in East Lansing, Miles spent two seasons at Mayville State, four seasons at SW Minnesota State, six seasons at North Dakota State, and most recently, five seasons at Colorado State. In 2011-12, he led the Rams to a 20-12 record, CSU's first 20-win season since 1997-98. He is believed to be the only active coach who has made national tournament appearances at four-year schools at the Division I, Division II and NAIA levels.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Nebraska, 62-34, on Feb. 25, 2012, in East Lansing. The Spartans led by just eight points, 23-15, after a low-scoring first half. Minutes into the second half, the Spartans exploded with a 13-0 burst to spark a 23-2 run that sealed the victory. Draymond Green scored 12 points during the run. Nebraska's 34 points were the fewest MSU had allowed to a Big Ten opponent since Northwestern scored 29 points on Jan. 27, 2000. MSU made its first 10 shots of the second half over 10:30, and 13 of its first 15 over 13:40. During the game, Green grabbed his 1,000th career rebound, becoming the third player in Spartan history with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Freshman Shavon Shields has started the last two games for Nebraska; he is the son of former Nebraska offensive lineman Will Shields, a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame in 2012 and 2013. Sophomore guard Jordan Tyrance is the son of Pat Tyrance, an All-Big Eight linebacker for the Huskers, and Renita Robinson, a 1989 NCAA Women's Triple Jump Champion ... Five different Huskers (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida and David Rivers) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season ... Nebraska features an eight-man rotation which includes just two players who saw action last season ... Ray Gallegos (36.5 mpg) and Dylan Talley (35.1 mpg) rank first and third in the Big Ten in minutes played ... Nebraska has held 15 of 16 opponents under 50 percent shooting, including seven opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
GM. 16 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 62 - IOWA 59
Michigan State defeated Iowa, 62-59, on Jan. 10, 2012, in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes scored the game's first seven points, before MSU tied the game at 9-9. But with 8:24 remaining in the first half, Iowa held a 26-14 lead. The Spartans responded with a 10-0 run and went into the half trailing by just four points, 28-24. MSU was fortunate to be in the game despite but just shooting .370 from the floor, .200 from 3-point range and .333 from the foul line. With 12:50 left in the contest, Iowa had pushed its lead back up to eight points at 38-30, but trailing 42-37 two minutes later, MSU used a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the game. Still, the Hawkeyes continued to fight and took a 55-51 lead with 2:15 left. Keith Appling then sliced through the defense for a floating jumper. After one Iowa free throw, Gary Harris was fouled shooting a 3-pointer on the Spartans' next possession. He made all three free throws to tie the game and Branden Dawson followed with a steal and breakaway dunk giving MSU a 60-58 lead. In the final 34 seconds, Iowa shot just 3-of-6 from the foul line, but Keith Appling was 4-of-4 in the final 20 seconds for MSU, sealing the Spartan victory.
MSU VS. IOWA NOTES
* Michigan State won for the first time all season when being outshot by its opponent (.451, .404)
* Branden Dawson scored a career-high 17 points.
* Michigan State held a 24-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
* Michigan State overcame its largest deficit (12 points) in any win this season.
* Iowa made 12 of its first 18 shot attempts in the game's first 11:36, but made just 11 of its final 33 attempts in the final 28:24.
* MSU's defense held Iowa to just two points in the final 8:23 of the first half.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
It's All About Boardwork
Michigan State has led the nation in rebounding in four of the last 13 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010), ranking in the Top 10 eight times and the Top 25 on 11 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding in 12 of the last 15 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 460 of 597 opponents (.771), posting a 366-94 (.796) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 15 of 16 opponents this season, losing the only game in which they were out-rebounded (Minnesota). They rank 4th in the Big Ten and 18th in the nation with a +8.5 rebounding margin.
MSU's Center Tandem
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne combine to give Michigan State a steady inside presence. Although they sometimes will take the floor together, at least one of them is usually in the game. Combined, they average 17.0 ppg and 14.7 rpg, with both ranking among the top six in the Big Ten in rebounding. Both of them are also shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 13 Big Ten Championships, including three of the last four, since joining the league prior to the 1950-51 season. The Spartans' first ever league game was at Northwestern, where MSU claimed a 67-62 victory on Jan. 6, 1951. All-time, MSU is 552-451 (.550) in league play, including 198-91 (.685) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 198 conference wins. Izzo has guided MSU to seven of its 13 league crowns. Since Izzo's first season (1995-96), MSU has a Big Ten-best record of 198-91, 15.5 games better than second-place Wisconsin (182-106).
Another Izzo Milestone
Tom Izzo became the third-winningest coach in Big Ten history with Michigan State's win vs. Purdue. The victory was win No. 424, passing Lou Henson (423 wins; 1975-96). Izzo (425 wins) now trails only Bob Knight (662; 1971-2000) and Gene Keady (512; 1980-2005).
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris ranks second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per contest, and if you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging 14.2 ppg, which would lead all Big Ten freshmen. He opened his Spartan career by becoming just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games. He suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the fourth game of the season against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. He is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19 and Dec. 10. He's averaging a team-best 16.0 ppg in Big Ten play, leading all conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (25) and attempted (65), and has made .556 (10-of-18) of his shots from behind the arc in conference action.
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne leads the way with three (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee). Branden Dawson (Connecticut and Purdue) and Derrick Nix (Tuskegee and Texas) each have two, while Denzel Valentine (Oakland) has one.
The 2011-12 season was one of Michigan State's best defensive efforts on record. The Spartans ranked second in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot .379 from the field, the lowest percentage by Spartan opponents since 1957-58 (.343). In addition, MSU ranked No. 15 in the nation in scoring defense (59.3 ppg) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.299). This season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .374 from the field, ranking second in the Big Ten, including .304 from 3-point range. MSU also ranks second in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 57.8 points per contest. In MSU's lone conference loss, it had one of its weaker defensive efforts, allowing Minnesota to score 76 points on 56.6 percent shooting, both of which were season highs for Spartan opponents.
There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (14.2 ppg - 10th Big Ten) and assists (4.4 apg - 6th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in nine games, and scoring 20 or more points three times. One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .349 (15-of-43) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12. In addition, he's establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. His play has not gone unnoticed by his head coach, as Tom Izzo remarked "I'm not an easy guy to please. But I'm really excited for him and proud of him for what he's doing right now in an incredible way."
Spartans Shooting Better
Michigan State got off to a cold shooting start this season, failing to shoot better than 39 percent in either half in the opener against Connecticut. In the 30 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 14 times. Through 16 games, MSU is shooting .469 from the field, ranking fourth in the Big Ten.
Trice Is Back
Travis Trice suffered a concussion and broken nose in the season opener against Germany and missed the next five games. In his 10 games back, he's averaging 6.4 points, while shooting .457 (16-of-35) from 3-point range. His return has taken some of the ball-handling duties off Keith Appling's shoulders. In the five games that Trice missed, Appling was forced to play 36.4 minutes per contest.
A look at the Big Ten stats shows that junior center Adreian Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten. Payne ranks fifth in the conference in rebounding (7.4 rpg), sixth in field-goal percentage (.575) and ninth in blocks (1.3 bpg). He also ranks fifth on the Spartans in scoring at 8.1 points per contest. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played 20 minutes or more in just eight games. In six games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls, limiting his playing time. He's recorded three double-doubles this season, each one of them in 22 minutes or less.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix ranks sixth in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.3 caroms per contest. Nix grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in his Spartan debut three seasons ago, but did not record double figures in rebounds again until the 2012-13 season opener when he collected 11 boards against Connecticut. He has four double-figure rebounding games this season, and has recorded double-doubles in two of his last six games. They were his first double-doubles since his Spartan debut. Following a career-high 25-point, 11-rebound effort against Texas, he was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 24.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups this year, although the same starting lineup has been used for the last nine contests, and 10 games total. Eight current Spartans are averaging more than nine minutes per game, and 10 are averaging 4.8 minutes or more. Finding a rotation was difficult early in the season due to injuries to Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Gary Harris. In fact, the game at Miami (No. 7 of the season) was the first game in which all non-redshirting scholarship players saw action, and even then, Trice and Harris were just coming off injuries.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +12.0 (36.8-24.8), out-scoring 14 of its 16 opponents. At times, MSU has dominated the paint, including out-scoring Texas Southern (46-10), Oakland (40-16), Miami (30-14), Nicholls State (52-20), Tuskegee (42-26), Bowling Green (42-24), and Texas (30-16).
Appling Takes Over
In several of Michigan State's wins, Keith Appling has made key plays down the stretch to secure a Spartan victory. Against Kansas, Appling scored five points in the final 1:36, first hitting a 3-pointer to give MSU a four-point lead, and then connecting on an acrobatic driving layup with 14 seconds left to give MSU a 67-64 win. He scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half against the Jayhawks. Against Boise State, with MSU leading by two points in the final minute, Appling hit another driving layup with 14 seconds left again, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. With six seconds left, he hit one of two free throws to secure the win. Against Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies having cut the lead to four points with under seven minutes left, Appling knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 15-1 run to close the game. At Iowa, he scored six of his 12 points in the final 1:49, including hitting all four free throw attempts in the final 20 seconds of a three-point Spartan win.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.1 ppg) and minutes (27.3 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (3.0 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.3 rpg) and fifth in minutes (22.4 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 4.8 minutes in the 11 games in which he's played.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 198-139, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +3.7 points per game (12.4-8.7). The Spartans are averaging 12.2 offensive boards per game. MSU has 195 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 333 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .369.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 15 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 165 games against ranked opponents. That total ranks first among teams that have appeared in a Final Four since then. The Spartans are followed by North Carolina (153), Kentucky (148), Duke (145) and Connecticut (138). (Through Jan. 11)
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 30 steals through the first 16 games of the season (1.9 spg), ranking fourth in the Big Ten. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. For comparison, Draymond Green led the 2011-12 Spartans with 54 steals.
Frequent Flier Miles
With trips to Ramstein Air Base (vs. Connecticut), Atlanta (vs. Kansas) and Miami, Michigan State traveled nearly 12,000 miles in the month of November. In fact, the Spartans had flown more than 9500 miles prior to their home opener.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Michigan (No. 2), Indiana (No. 5), Minnesota (No. 8), Illinois (No. 12), Ohio State (No. 15), and Michigan State (No. 22) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Jan. 7). To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined nine games against those five teams during conference play. Michigan State's single plays are at Iowa and Penn State, and hosting Illinois and Northwestern. Last season, eight of the 12 league teams participated in the postseason, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne is tied with Aloysius Anagonye for seventh in Michigan State history with 88 career blocks. Goran Suton ranks sixth with 90. Earlier this season, Payne equaled his career high with four blocks against Kansas.
Senior Derrick Nix and red-shirt sophomore Russell Byrd will serve as team captains during the 2012-13 season. They were chosen by a vote of their teammates, and Tom Izzo made the announcement at MSU Men's Basketball Media Day on October 9.
Michigan State welcomes a talented and decorated class to the team in 2012-13. Gary Harris was a 2012 McDonald's All-American, and the recipient of the Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Basketball award, averaging 25.4 points at Hamilton Southeastern. Matt Costello was the Hal Schram Michigan Mr. Basketball Award winner after averaging 25 points and 19 rebounds as a senior at Bay City Western. Denzel Valentine led Lansing Sexton to back-to-back Class B state championships, and was the 2012 Associated Press Class B Player of the Year after nearly averaging a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Kenny Kaminski missed most of his senior season at Medina with a shoulder injury, but returned in time to lead his team to the Elite Eight of the state tournament. Harris, Costello and Valentine all are expected to contribute this year, while a different shoulder injury makes Kaminski a possible redshirt candidate.
Michigan State has a reputation for being a strong, physical team and the numbers back it up. Twelve players on MSU's roster can leg press over 700 pounds, with Derrick Nix leading the way with 1100 pounds. Since his arrival on campus, Keith Appling has increased his leg press by 315 pounds under the direction of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Vorkapich. Collectively, the Spartans can leg press 6 tons - the equivalent of three cars or one African elephant. In terms of upper body strength, Nix leads the way once again, bench pressing the NBA testing standard of 185 pounds 22 times. Gary Harris is the strongest of the guards, ranking tied with Alex Gauna for second on the team with 19 repetitions.
In addition to their strength, the Spartans have also proven to be incredibly athletic, leading to the up-tempo pace Michigan State desires to play this season. When Coach Izzo recruited Adreian Payne, he called Payne the most athletic big man he's ever coached. He wasn't exaggerating as Payne holds the Izzo-era record for a standing vertical jump (no step) at 38 inches. Given a running start, three players can elevate greater than 40 inches: Keith Appling (42"), Adreian Payne (41"), and Travis Trice (40.5").
THE BOOK ON Tom Izzo
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 425-172 (.712), and 198-91 (.685) in the Big Ten, as the coach of the Michigan State basketball program. He ranks as the winningest coach in Michigan State history, having passed his mentor Jud Heathcote with his 341st career victory on Nov. 28, 2009 . In his 17 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has captured eight National Coach of the Year awards, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001 and 2012. In 1999, Izzo was named National Coach of the year by Basketball Times, while earning similar honors from The Associated Press, Basketball News and the USBWA in '98. He also earned National Coach of the Year accolades from CBSSports.com in 2012. He earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998, 2009 and 2012.
Among The Big Ten's Best
Tom Izzo's .685 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Wisconsin's Bo Ryan (.713), and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700), and ahead of former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.726), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Izzo (.712) and Lambert (.709). With 198 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 17 seasons, Tom Izzo won 412 games, ranking tied for second in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 17 years.
Izzo's Coaching Tree
Five current Division I head coaches all served as assistants to Tom Izzo, including Tom Crean (Indiana), Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech), Stan Heath (South Florida), Mark Montgomery (Northern Illinois) and Doug Wojcik (College of Charleston). Mike Garland served as head coach at Cleveland State for three seasons and Stan Joplin, an assistant during Izzo's first season, spent 12 seasons as head coach at Toledo. Jim Boylen was head coach at Utah for four years.