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Michigan State Travels To Northwestern

The Spartans put their 2-0 Big Ten road record on the line as they travel to Northwestern.

Jan. 14, 2014

#4/4 Michigan State (15-1, 4-0) vs. Northwestern (8-9, 1-3)
 Date Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014
 Time 7 p.m. ET
 Location Evanston, Ill. | Welsh-Ryan Arena
 Television BTN (Brian Anderson, Mike Kelley)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
 Game Notes Michigan State
 Statistics  Michigan State | Northwestern
 Internet Coverage   Gametracker | Live Stats (Mobile Users)
 Social Media @MSU_Basketball   |  Facebook

Michigan State puts its undefeated road record on the line as it travels to Northwestern. The Spartans will face a Wildcat team coming off its first Big Ten win of the season, having defeated a ranked Illinois squad on Sunday. MSU and NU will meet twice this season after playing just once the last two years.

1. Spartans Away From Home

Michigan State is a perfect 7-0 away from home this season, including 3-0 on an opponent's home court. It marks the first time in school history that MSU has won its first seven games away from East Lansing. The Spartans are scoring 81.7 points per game away from Breslin Center, with four players averaging 14 points or more (Gary Harris-19.7 ppg, Keith Appling-16.4 ppg, Adreian Payne-15.7 ppg, Branden Dawson-14.0 ppg). In fact, Dawson is averaging +3.6 more points on the road than his overall scoring average. By winning at Penn State and Indiana to open conference play, it marked the first time since 2008-09 and just the second time in school history that MSU opened league play with a 2-0 record with both games on the road.

2. Spartans Off To Record Start
With a 15-1 record, the 2013-14 Spartans have matched the 1931, 1978 and 2001 teams for the best 16-game starts in school history. The 1931 and 2001 teams improved to 16-1 before losing a second contest.

3. Appling Paces The Big Ten
Keith Appling has elevated his all-around play as a senior and is proving to be among the most dominating performers in the Big Ten, and, in fact, the country. Appling leads the conference with four games in which he's tallied at least 20 points and seven assists. The rest of the conference has just four occasions, and Appling ranks tied for third in the country, trailing Providence's Bryce Cotton and Green Bay's Keifer Sykes (5). The Spartan senior also paces the Big Ten with three games of at least 20 points, 7 assists and five rebounds, ranking tied for second in the nation, trailing only Delaware's Jarvis Threatt (4).

4. Taking Care Of The Ball
Michigan State is on pace to shatter the mark for fewest turnovers during the Tom Izzo era. MSU is currently averaging 11.6 turnovers. The previous low during the Izzo era was 13.0 in 2011-12. The Spartans are 10-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent. Most recently, MSU committed a season-low seven against Minnesota.

5. Izzo Moves Up Big Ten Coaching List
With MSU's next win, Tom Izzo will tie Illinois' Lou Henson for fourth place on the Big Ten career victories list with 214 wins. In MSU's 73-56 win at Indiana, Izzo moved past Indiana's Branch McCracken for fifth place on the career Big Ten victories list with 211. Indiana's Bob Knight is the all-time leader with 353 Big Ten wins.

Series History

Michigan State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 82-38, including a 32-30 advantage in games played in Evanston. The Spartans have won 17 of the last 19, 24 of the last 27, and 44 of the last 48 contests. Tom Izzo is 27-4 in his career against Northwestern.

Coach Collins
Chris Collins (Duke, '98) is 8-9 in his first season as a collegiate head coach. Prior to his arrival in Evanston, Collins was an assistant coach at Duke from 2000-2013, including serving as associate head coach since the 2008-09 season. Collins also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Seton Hall, and one season with the WNBA's Detroit Shock.

The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Northwestern, 71-61, on March 10, 2013, in the regular-season finale. The Spartans led 33-26 at the half thanks to shooting .650 from the floor, and .600 from 3-point range. Northwestern tied the game at 53 with 5:44 remaining. MSU scored on five of its next six possessions, and NU missed seven straight shots, as the Spartans went on a 10-0 run over the next 4:41. The Spartans hit 1-of-5 free throws to start, but made 14 of their final 15 attempts, including 12-of-13 in the last 2:43. MSU shot a season-best 65.8 percent from the field, including a season-high 60.0 percent from 3-point range. Keith Appling led MSU with 16 points, and Derrick Nix tallied 10 points and a career-high six assists on Senior Day. Kale Abrahamson led NU with 16 points.

The Last Meeting In Evanston
Northwestern defeated Michigan State, 81-74, on Jan. 14, 2012, in Evanston. MSU got off to a quick start, hitting nine of its first 10 shots in jumping out to a 25-16 lead with 9:17 left in the first half. Northwestern showed it wouldn't go away, and when Alex Marcotullio hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the Wildcats took a 36-34 lead with 1:21 left in the half. Right before the half, NU's John Shurna hit a deep 3-pointer, giving the Wildcats a 39-37 lead at the break. Northwestern would not give up the lead in the second half. MSU trailed 51-48 at the 14:42 mark following a Keith Appling 3-point play. The Spartan defense then forced a Wildcat miss, but Shurna grabbed the rebound resulting in a Reggie Hearn layup. The play sparked a 9-2 run that pushed the Wildcat lead to 60-50, and the Spartans could never get closer than five points after that. Appling led MSU with 17 points, while Shurna led all scorers with 22, and Drew Crawford added 20. The Spartans shot 65.0 percent in the first half, but just 34.4 percent in the second.

Wildcat Notes
MSU will be the fourth ranked team NU will play in its first five Big Ten contests ... Drew Crawford is the Big Ten's active leading scorer with 1,667 points, ranking fifth in school history. He is one of just five active players in the nation with 1,600 career points and 600 career rebounds (620) ... JerShon Cobb is NU's second-leading scorer (11.9 ppg) after sitting out all of last season, although he also started as a freshman and sophomore.

Minnesota used a 13-4 run midway through the first half to take an early eight point lead. The Golden Gopher advantage reached 10 points with 1:46 left in the first half, before MSU scored the half's final five points to go into the break trailing 41-36. The Gophers hit 51.9 percent from the floor in the first stanza, including 58.3 percent from 3-point range. Minnesota started the second half on an equally hot note, hitting five of its first six shots over the first 4:03 in taking a 53-43 lead. The Gophers, however, would not make another field goal for the next 13:20 or score a point in the next 7:51. MSU went on a 15-0 run, claiming a 58-53 lead with 8:24 remaining. The Spartans led by five points at 71-66 with 21 seconds remaining after Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello each hit two free throws, but Minnesota quickly hit a 3-pointer. Gary Harris then missed two free throws and DeAndre Mathieu tied the game on a driving layup before the final buzzer. The Spartans were strong in the extra period, scoring the first nine points, en route to out-scoring the Gophers, 16-4, in overtime.

* Michigan State's 15-1 record ties the best 16-game start under Tom Izzo.
* MSU won in overtime in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 11 & 15, 2011 when the Spartans defeated Wisconsin and Northwestern at home.
* Michigan State committed seven turnovers including just two after halftime.
* The Spartans used a 15-0 run in the middle of the second half to erase Minnesota's largest lead of the game and take the lead, holding the Gophers without a point for 7:51 and 13:20 without a field goal.
* Michigan State beat the Golden Gophers at home for the 15th-straight time.
* Matt Costello pulled down a career-high eight rebounds, including a team-high four offensive boards.
* Keith Appling shot a career-best 15-of-16 from the free-throw line.
* Only shooting from behind the arc, Kenny Kaminski shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range, hitting his first five, to total a career-high 15 points.
* Michigan State blocked a season-high 10 shots.
* Minnesota's only field goal in the overtime came with 40 seconds remaining, as MSU held the Gophers to 1-of-9 in shooting in the extra period. In fact, Minnesota made just four field goals over the final 15 minutes of the second half and overtime combined.
* Denzel Valentine played a career- and team-high 38 minutes.

Lending A Helping Hand

Michigan State is averaging 18.5 assists on the season, pacing the Big Ten and ranking third in the nation. With 296 assists on 473 made field goals, the Spartans are recording an assist on 62.6 percent of their baskets. MSU ranks second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) (NCAA stats through Jan. 12). Keith Appling is third in the conference in assists (4.6 apg) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4). Five Spartans average two or more assists as Denzel Valentine (4.1 apg), Gary Harris (2.9 apg), Travis Trice (2.4 apg), and Branden Dawson (2.0 apg) join Appling.

Harris Shooting Better
Gary Harris struggled with his outside shot to open the season, connecting on just .276 (16-58) of his 3-pointers through his first seven games. But since returning from his ankle injury, he is shooting .400 (16-40) from behind the arc over the last six games, including .423 (11-26) in Big Ten action. Last season, Harris led the Spartans in 3-point percentage (.411), including .472 in Big Ten play.

Spartans Hit The Mark
Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage at .481. The Spartans have shot 50 percent or better in seven games, including a season-high .631 against Mount St. Mary's. Against North Florida, MSU shot 70.8 percent in the first half. MSU has shot better than its opponent in all but one game this season.

Renewed Defensive Commitment
Following Michigan State's loss to North Carolina, Coach Izzo took the blame on himself, feeling he overreacted to some of the new rules designed to limit physical play and increase scoring, and vowed to correct that. In the eight games since the loss, MSU is holding its opponents to 62.4 points and a .370 field-goal percentage, including .312 from 3-point range. In a related stat regarding MSU's return to basics, the Spartans own a +8.5 rebounding margin over the last eight games. During this stretch, MSU has played four games away from home, including at Texas and Indiana, and owns a home win over No. 3 Ohio State.

Three 15-Point Scorers
With Gary Harris (17.8 ppg), Adreian Payne (16.4 ppg) and Keith Appling (16.2 ppg), Michigan State is one of just seven schools in the nation with three 15-point scorers. Other schools include Iowa State, VMI, Delaware, Norfolk State, Cal. State-Northridge and Temple.

Big Ten Success
Michigan State has captured at least a share of the Big Ten Championship in three of the last five seasons. After winning the title outright in 2009, the Spartans shared the conference crown in 2010 and 2012. In 2012, MSU also added a Big Ten Tournament title to its resume. During Tom Izzo's tenure, the Spartans have won seven regular-season titles and three tournament crowns.

Big Ten Success, Part II
Michigan State has won 13 Big Ten Championships, including three of the last five, 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 571-455 (.557) in league play, including 213-95 (.692) under Tom Izzo, who ranks fifth in league history with 212 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 213-95, 17.5 games better than second-place Wisconsin (195-112).

Rotating Starting Lineup
Michigan State has used eight different starting lineups in the last 11 games, although it has used the same one the last three games. A large part of the past rotating door has been the various injuries/illnesses to strike the Spartans. Most notably, Gary Harris missed three games (Mount St. Mary's, Oakland, North Florida) in a four-game stretch with an ankle injury and also did not start at Texas. However, he's averaging 19.3 points in his last four games. Also of note, Matt Costello started six of the first eight games of the season, but then missed four straight with mononucleosis before playing 12 minutes against Penn State. Branden Dawson sat out the New Orleans game with a shin bruise and Travis Trice missed the North Florida game with foot blisters and the Ohio State game due to illness. In addition, Adreian Payne (plantar fasciitis) and Keith Appling (hip pointer) missed significant amounts of practice in early/mid December, while Payne is currently dealing with a right foot sprain which forced him to miss the Minnesota contest.

Payne From Deep
Through the first 87 games of his career, Adreian Payne shot just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Over the last 35 games, he is 34-of-82 (.415), averaging nearly one made 3-pointer per contest. On nine occasions, including six times this season, he's made more than one in a game.

Double-Double Trouble
Four different Spartans have collected a total of 11 double-doubles this season. Branden Dawson (vs. McNeese State 12 pts., 12 reb.; vs. Virginia Tech 12 pts., 10 reb.; vs. Oklahoma 18 pts., 10 reb.; vs. Oakland 16 pts., 13 reb.; vs. Texas 11 pts., 10 reb.) leads the team with five, while Adreian Payne (vs. McNeese State 10 pts., 10 reb.; vs. Columbia 26 pts., 11 reb.; vs. Virginia Tech 29 pts., 10 reb.; vs. Oakland 20 pts., 10 reb.) has four. Gary Harris (vs. McNeese State 20 pts., 10 reb.) and Denzel Valentine (vs. New Orleans 10 points, 13 rebounds) each have one. Dawson ranks second in the Big Ten, while Payne is tied for fourth.

Guard Rebounds
For the Spartans to maintain their reputation as a strong rebounding team, they will need a strong effort from their guards. In fact, four of MSU's five leading rebounders play on the perimeter. Branden Dawson is averaging a team-best 8.7 rebounds, ranking second in the Big Ten, from the wing. Denzel Valentine (5.6 rpg) ranks third on the team, Gary Harris (4.5 rpg) ranks fourth and Keith Appling ranks fifth (3.5 rpg).

Outside Shooting
Michigan State is shooting .400 from 3-point range (132-of-330), leading the Big Ten. Four Spartans (Gary Harris-32, Keith Appling-28, Travis Trice-20, Adreian Payne-18) each average more than one made 3-pointer per game. Individually, Appling leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.483), while Payne ranks sixth (.439) and Trice ranks eighth (.426). The Spartans have made 10 or more 3-pointers in seven games, after doing it just once last season, ranking third in the Big Ten in 3-point field goals per game (8.3). Last season, the Spartans shot .338 from 3-point range, hitting 177-of-523. The 2003-04 squad was the best shooting team of the Tom Izzo era, shooting .401, while the 1989-90 squad shot a school-record .431.

20-Point Spartans
Four different Spartans have scored 20 points or more in a game this season. Keith Appling (27 vs. New Orleans, 27 vs. Oklahoma, 25 vs. Portland, 24 vs. Minnesota, 22 vs. Kentucky, 21 vs. Oakland, 20 vs. Ohio State) leads the way with seven 20-point efforts, while Adreian Payne (33 vs. Texas, 29 vs. Virginia Tech, 26 vs. Columbia, 20 vs. Oakland) and Gary Harris (26 vs. Indiana, 21 vs. Oklahoma, 20 vs. McNeese State, 20 vs. Kentucky) each have four. Branden Dawson joined the club with 20 points vs. Penn State in the Big Ten opener.

On The Run
Michigan State is eager to get out in transition this season, even more so than normal. Speaking at MSU's annual media day, Izzo told the assembled media "I think we should be a team that can run, run, run and run." Through 16 games, MSU is averaging 82.2 points per game, ranking second in the Big Ten, including 17.6 points in transition. This includes a dominating 21-2 edge in fast break points against Kentucky.

Spartans At The Charity Stripe
Michigan State is shooting .712 from the foul line this season. The three Spartans that attempt the most free throws (Appling-86 attempts, .756; Payne-61 attempts, .803; Harris-61 attempts, .852) are each shooting 71 percent or better from the foul line. In fact, the three are shooting a combined .798 (166-208) from the foul line.

Payne's Senior Season
After opting to bypass the NBA Draft and return to Michigan State, Adreian Payne is determined to make the most of his senior season. A preseason first-team All-American as selected by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, and one of 15 players on the watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Payne ranks third on the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.9 rpg). He's posted a double-double in four games this season and 10 of his last 26 dating back to last season. Against Texas, he scored a career-high 33 points. He ranks 11th in the Big Ten in scoring and fifth in rebounding. He's captured Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice this season (Nov. 18 and Dec. 23).

Appling Runs The Team
Senior Keith Appling is in his third season as Michigan State's starting point guard, gaining more confidence each season. He's finished in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in assists in each of the last two seasons, but he spoke this offseason about becoming better at running his team, gaining praise from Coach Izzo for his development. He's averaging a career-best 4.7 assists per game and owns a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. In a win over No. 1 Kentucky, Appling dished out eight assists, in addition to his 22 points and eight rebounds. Coach Izzo described Appling's 25-point, seven-assist effort vs. Portland "one of the greatest point guard performances in many, many, many years when you look at what he shot and the decisions he made. He did just an unbelievable job defensively ... He was worth the price of admission." He paced MSU with a career-high 27 points vs. Oklahoma, earning Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic MVP honors. He scored a team-high 21 points vs. Oakland, including 18 points in the second half. Recently, he matched his career high with 27 points against New Orleans, adding eight assists, earning co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors on Dec. 30. In an overtime win against No. 3 Ohio State, Appling led the Spartans in scoring (20 points) and assists (7) and tied for the team lead in rebounds (6). He followed with a game-high 24 points vs. Minnesota, including eight points (8-8 FT) in overtime.

Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of MSU's first of 16 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 178 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 (163), Kentucky (155), Duke (154), and Connecticut (143).

Super Subs
Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine are not normally in the starting lineup, but in the eyes of Coach Izzo, they might as well be. Izzo has regularly referred to the duo as "super subs." Valentine ranks fifth on the team in scoring (7.4 ppg) and minutes (27.3 mpg), while Trice ranks sixth in scoring (7.4 ppg) and minutes (21.4 mpg). Valentine (4.1 apg) is second in assist average, while Trice (2.4 apg) is fourth.

Spartan Spurtability
MSU's dynamic offense has shown the ability to score points in bunches. During the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, the Spartans closed the first half on both games with large runs. Against Virginia Tech, MSU had a 15-3 run over the final 4:18. The next day, MSU closed the Oklahoma first half on a 34-9 run over the final 10:38, including a 13-0 spurt over the final 4:36. MSU has also shown the ability to start with a burst, opening the Kentucky game with a 10-0 run, and a 9-0 run vs. Columbia. MSU used a 19-2 run over two halves to put Mount St. Mary's away. Against North Florida, MSU opened the contest with a 21-4 spurt, that included an 11-0 run. A 14-2 run midway through the second half turned a two point deficit against Texas into a 10-point lead. In a 53-point win over New Orleans, the Spartans posted a 21-0 second-half run, along with two 12-0 first-half spurts. In the Big Ten opener at Penn State, MSU opened the second half with a 10-0 run, and put the game away with a 20-3 spurt. At Indiana, MSU had a 15-1 run over the final 2:48 of the first half and first 2:24 of the second half, after a 10-0 run earlier in the first half. A 13-2 second half run seemed to give MSU enough of a cushion against Ohio State. MSU used a 15-0 run vs. Minnesota to turn a 10-point deficit into a five point advantage with a 15-0 run during a seven-minute stretch in the middle of the second half.

An Efficient Harris
Following a season that saw him earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, Gary Harris is looking for an even better season as a sophomore. After opting to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season rather than enter the NBA Draft, Harris entered 2013-14 as the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year honoree and a popular pick for preseason All-America accolades. He opened the season by recording his first career double-double with 20 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and dishing out a career-high six assists. He followed that effort with another 20-point contest against No. 1 Kentucky. He leads the team in scoring and ranks second in the Big Ten, averaging 18.2 points per contest, scoring 20 or more points in four games. He missed three games (Mount St. Mary's, Oakland and North Florida) while resting an injured ankle, but is averaging 18.2 points in six games since his return.

Comeback Kids
Michigan State ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring margin (+16.8), but that doesn't mean it isnt capable of a comeback. The Spartans have overcome deficits of 10 or more points three times, and deficits of seven or more points six times. MSU is a perfect 5-0 when trailing at the half.

Spartan Defense
Michigan State has held opponents below 40 percent shooting for the year in each of the last two seasons, limiting opponents to .390 FG% last year (ranking 22nd in the nation) and .379 FG% in 2011-12 (ranking second in the nation). It's the first time the Spartans have held opponents below 40 percent in back-to-back seasons since MSU did it three straight seasons from 1999-2000 to 2001-02. MSU's first 16 opponents are shooting .381 from the floor, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .317 from 3-point range, ranking sixth.

Dawson's Energy On Display
Branden Dawson didn't miss a game last season despite tearing his ACL at the end of his freshman year, and yet he wasn't functioning at 100 percent. Early indications in 2013-14 are that Dawson is a much more active player, exhibiting the rare combination of strength and athleticism that rank him among the Big Ten's elite. He is currently averaging a team-best 8.7 rebounds, ranking second in the Big Ten and leading the team in 10 of 15 games in which he's played, and 10.4 points. His tip-in with five seconds remaining sealed the win over No. 1 Kentucky. Dawson leads the team with five double-doubles. He also ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.600).

Payne's Block Party
Senior Adreian Payne ranks second in Michigan State history with 128 career blocks, just six behind MSU career leader Drew Naymick (134 blocks). Payne blocked a career-best five shots in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament against Memphis, en route to 46 on the season, good for the sixth-best single-season effort in school history.

Nation's Best Backcourt
With Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Branden Dawson in the starting lineup and Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine coming off the bench, Michigan State stakes a strong claim for having the nation's best backcourt. All five rank among MSU's top six in scoring, while Appling, Harris, Dawson and Trice have each scored 20 or more points at least once during their career. Not only are they dynamic offensively, they also can provide lockdown defense.

It's All About Boardwork
Michigan State has led the nation in rebounding in four of the last 14 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010), ranking in the Top 10 nine times and the Top 25 on 12 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in conference games in 11 of the last 16 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 488 of 633 opponents (.771), posting a 388-100 (.795) mark in those games. Last season, the Spartans out-rebounded 32 of 36 opponents. This season, MSU owns a +5.9 rebounding margin, ranking third in the Big Ten, and has out-rebounded 11 of 16 opponents.

Returning Productivity
MSU returns six of its top seven scorers from last season, in featuring one of the nation's most experienced rosters to start the season. The Spartans return 84.2 percent of their scoring, 79.3 percent of their rebounding and 84.0 percent of their assists. Five returning Spartans started 15 or more games last season, including four with 24 or more starts. Six returners played 500 or more minutes last season. By comparison, entering last year, just five Spartans had played more than 350 minutes in their career.

Robertson Trophy Watch List
Senior forward Adreian Payne and sophomore guard Gary Harris are two of 15 players named to the 2013-14 Oscar Robertson Trophy Preseason Watch List. The preseason watch list was selected by the board of directors of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Michigan State is the only school with two players on the list of 15. The award will be presented to the national player of the year by its namesake at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on April 14, 2014 in Oklahoma City. The Big Ten leads all conference with four candidates as Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Michigan's Mitch McGary are also on the list.

MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are currently ranked tied for No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. Five Spartan opponents are also ranked in at least one of the polls, including Wisconsin (3 AP/3 USA Today), Ohio State (11/9), Kentucky (13/12), Iowa (14/16) and Oklahoma (t-25/-).

Wooden And Naismith Award Watch Lists
Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne have each earned a spot on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list. The Spartans are one of four schools to have at least three players on the list. The Big Ten leads all conferences with 10 players on the list of 50. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. Harris and Payne have also been named to the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List.

Cousy Award Watch List
Senior Keith Appling is one of 47 players on the watch list of candidates for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's college basketball. This watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then final five by early March. The Cousy Award winner will be presented the award on Championship Monday in Dallas at the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 Announcement and Press Conference.

1,000 Point Scorers
Last season, Keith Appling became the 43rd player in Michigan State history to record 1,000 career points, and just the 29th player to reach the milestone in three seasons. With 1,381 career points, he ranks 22rd in MSU career scoring, 1 point behind Robert Chapman (1,382 points), 2 points behind Darryl Johnson (1,383 points), 12 behind Andre Hutson (1,393 points) and 87 behind Charlie Bell (1,468 points). With 966 points, Adreian Payne is likely to become the next Spartan to reach 1,000 career points.

MSU's Center Rotation
Most of Michigan State's starting lineup is pretty-much etched in stone as Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne all return from the 2012-13 starting lineup. But the fifth spot is a little bit more unsettled. Sophomore Matt Costello has been the starter in eight games, but redshirt junior Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling are also in contention for the spot should MSU elect to go with a big lineup. The trio is averaging a combined 6.6 points and 7.0 rebounds.

MSU At No. 1
Earlier this season, Michigan State held the No. 1 spot in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls for three straight weeks for the first time in school history. Although the Spartans have been ranked in the Top 10 in 15 of Tom Izzo's 19 seasons, and the Top 5 in 11 seasons, this was just the second season under Coach Izzo, and just the third time in school history that MSU has held the top spot in the AP Top 25, having previously been ranked No. 1 for two weeks in both 1978-79 and 2000-01. The Spartans have an all-time record of 9-4 at No. 1.

Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten will make a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball, an honor bestowed on it by's Jeff Goodman on Nov. 5. Four conference teams are currently ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll, including No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 9 Ohio State, and No. 16 Iowa. Last season, seven of the 12 league teams participated in the NCAA Tournament, with a total of nine in postseason play.

Conference Favorites
Michigan State was announced as a unanimous preseason favorite for the conference championship at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago on Oct. 31. Michigan was picked to finish second and Ohio State was third. Spartan sophomore Gary Harris was tabbed the preseason player of the year, and senior Adreian Payne joined Harris on the preseason All-Big Ten squad.

Spartan Freshmen
Michigan State could feature as many as three freshmen in its playing group, including red-shirt freshman Kenny Kaminski, and true freshmen Alvin Ellis III and Gavin Schilling. Kaminski redshirted last season following a shoulder injury he suffered last fall. He provides a big man with excellent shooting ability for the Spartans. Ellis III and Schilling were actually prep teammates as juniors at Chicago De La Salle High School before Schilling transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada for his senior season. Ellis III provides a solid all-around presence on the perimeter, while Schilling provides great strength and quickness in the post. Both Ellis III and Schilling were added during the spring signing period in 2013.

Coach Izzo

In his 19th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 454-179 (.717), and 213-95 (.692) 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 18 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 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 .692 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 (.710), 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 (.731), Izzo (.717), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 213 conference victories, Izzo ranks fifth all-time.

Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 18 seasons, Tom Izzo won 439 games, ranking fourth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 18 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.



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