Spartan Basketball Hits The Road For A Third-Straight Game

Jan. 17, 2003


2002-03 Michigan State Basketball
Michigan State (9-6, 1-2)
vs. Minnesota (8-5, 0-2)
January 18, 2003
2:00 P.M. EST
Williams Arena (14,625)
Minneapolis, Minn.

Radio: Spartan Sports Network - Will Tieman (Play by Play), Gus Ganakas (Color). Flagship - WJIM (1240 AM/97.5 FM)

TV: ESPN2 - Dave Barnett (Play by Play), Tim McCormick (Color)

Michigan State Game Notes
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The Opening Tip

A Tale Of Two Halves - In Michigan State's two Big Ten defeats, turnovers and poor defense in the first half have created halftime deficits that have been too much to overcome despite second-half surges. In the first half vs. Iowa, the Spartans committed 12 turnovers, while the Hawkeyes shot 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from the field en route to a nine-point halftime lead. In the second half, MSU committed just six turnovers and held Iowa to 34.8 percent (8-of-23) shooting, as the Spartans took a one-point lead with under two minutes left before losing 68-64. Against Purdue, MSU committed nine first-half turnovers as the Boilermakers shot 51.9 percent (13-of-27) en route to a 39-26 halftime lead. In the second half, the Spartans rallied and cut the Purdue lead to three points with 1:13 remaining, as MSU committed just five turnovers and held the Boilermakers to 26.3 percent (5-of-19) shooting from the field.

Game 15 Notes - Purdue 72 - Michigan State 60

* After allowing Purdue to shoot 51.9 (15-of-29) percent in the first half, MSU's defense held the Boilermakers to 26.3 percent (5-of-19) in the second half.

* Purdue's 31 free throws and 35 free throw attempts were the most by any Spartan opponent this season.

* Michigan State's 32.3 percent shooting was its lowest of the season.

* Michigan State opened the second half on a 16-to-5 run to cut a 13-point halftime deficit to just two points with 11:24 remaining.

* Michigan State held Purdue to 1-of-11 shooting from three-point range, the lowest number of makes and percentage (.091) by an opponent this season.

Little Things Make A Difference - The reason that turnovers and missed free throws are such a cause for concern is that Michigan State has had a legitimate chance of winning every game this year. The Spartans' six losses have been by a combined 34 points, an average of 5.7 points per game. But the games have been even closer than that stat indicates. Against Villanova, the Spartans trailed by one point with three minutes remaining. In the Oklahoma State game, MSU led by six points with 4:47 left and by one point with 1:43 left. Against Toledo, the game was tied in the final minute, while MSU trailed by just one point with less than 20 seconds remaining vs. Oklahoma. Against Iowa, the Spartans had a one-point lead with under two minutes left and had the ball in a tie game with one minute remaining. In the last loss vs. Purdue, MSU was down by just three points with 1:13 remaining.

Coach Izzo - In his eighth year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 176-71 (.713), 83-36 (.697) in the Big Ten, as the coach of the Michigan State basketball program. He is the third-winningest coach in MSU history, trailing only Jud Heathcote (340) and Benjamin VanAlstyne (232) in total wins. Izzo's 167 wins in his first seven years give him the fifth most by a coach in his first seven seasons of coaching in college basketball history. In his seven seasons of coaching, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors three times, including NABC honors in 2001. In 1999, Izzo was named national coach of the year by Basketball Times, while earning similar honors from Associated Press, Basketball News and the USBWA in '98.

Izzo's Two Decades - The 2002-03 season marks Tom Izzo's 20th with the Spartan basketball program. Now in his eighth year as a head coach, Izzo spent 12 years as an assistant under Jud Heathcote.

Minnesota Notes

Coach Monson - Dan Monson (Idaho, '85) is in fourth season as head coach at Minnesota with a record of 56-48. Overall, he is in his sixth season as a head coach with a record of 108-65. Prior to his arrival in Minneapolis, Monson spent two seasons at Gonzaga, leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1999. Monson's father, Don, was a head coach at Idaho and Oregon after serving as an assistant coach to Jud Heathcote at Michigan State from 1976-78.

Spartans Vs. Golden Gophers - Minnesota leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 54-46. This includes a 33-16 Golden Gopher advantage in games played in Minneapolis. Michigan State has won seven of the last nine games in the series, including three of four in Minneapolis. Tom Izzo is 8-5 vs. Minnesota, including 4-2 in Minneapolis.

Gopher Notes - Minnesota has four guys scoring in double-figures (Rick Rickert - 14.2, Maurice Hargrow - 13.7, Michael Bauer - 11.6, Jerry Holman - 10.0) ... the Golden Gophers rank fourth in the nation in blocked shots per game according to the Jan. 13 NCAA statistics and are currently averaging 7.31 blocks per game ... six players have attempted 24 or more three-point field goals ... on the season, Minnesota is averaging 16.0 turnovers per game, but just 12.0 turnovers in Big Ten contests.

MSU Basketball Notes

Going Home - Michigan State sophomore Alan Anderson is sure to have several family members and friends at the Minnesota game as the 2001 Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Player of the Year from DeLaSalle High School returns home. In his first trip to Minnesota with the Spartans, Anderson scored six points in 20 minutes before fouling out of the game.

Ager's Impact - Freshman Maurice Ager is averaging a team-best 12.8 points over his last four games. In Big Ten games, he is MSU's leading scorer at 13.0 points per contest. Ager missed the first six games of the year with a stress fracture in his right foot and made his regular-season debut in front of 23,145 people against Kentucky in Lexington. He played 14 minutes off the bench and scored five points. Ager adds a perimeter threat as he has already attempted 20 three-pointers in seven games, ranking third on the team. During practice on Christmas Day, Ager fainted and was taken to the hospital for two days of tests forcing him to miss the Jacksonville State and Toledo contests. This season, Ager has participated in a little over one-third of MSU's practices.

Ager Leads Bench Attack - When Maurice Ager is healthy and in the lineup, the Spartans have a much more potent bench. In the seven games in which Ager has played, MSU's bench is outscoring the opponents' benches by a combined 58 points, an average of +8.29 per game. By comparison, MSU's bench was outscored by 34 points in the eight games that Ager missed, an average of -4.25.

Big Ten Road Warriors - Michigan State is well known for its dominance on its home floor. But it has been its strong performance on the road in conference play that has led to four Big Ten Championships in the last five seasons. Since the 1997-98 Big Ten season, the Spartans have recorded a 27-15 mark away from home in conference games. Illinois is second with 22 conference road victories over the last five-plus years.

Rebounding And Defense Key In Victories - Michigan State's defense and rebounding are two keys to its performance. In MSU's nine wins, the Spartans are holding opponents to 38.0 percent shooting and own a rebound margin of +8.0. In the six losses, MSU opponents are shooting 44.9 percent, including 37.6 percent from long range. On the boards, the Spartans own a +4.0 advantage in the defeats.

Turnover Margin Critical - With Michigan State committing a large number of turnovers, turnover margin is a key indicator of MSU's chances of victory. The Spartans are 6-1 when committing the same number or fewer turnovers than their opponents. However, they are just 3-5 when committing more turnovers.

It's All About Boardwork - Through 15 games, the Spartans have a +6.4 rebounding margin to lead the Big Ten, outrebounding 11 of their 15 opponents and tying two others. Recently, however, the Spartans are struggling on the boards as they have outrebounded just two of their last five opponents. The 2001-02 season marked the fifth-straight year in which Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebound margin, outrebounding its opponents by an average of 7.9 boards per game. In Tom Izzo's seven years as head coach, Michigan State has never ranked worse than second in the Big Ten in rebound margin.

Torbert's Breakout - This season, Kelvin Torbert has shown flashes of the skills that made him the national high school player of the year coming out of Flint Northwestern High School. Over the last seven games, he is MSU's second-leading scorer at 10.6 points per game, while averaging 5.3 rebounds per contest. He is also shooting better, connecting on 50.9 percent (28-of-55) of his shots.

Spartans Hit Hard By Injuries - Injuries are a part of sports, but they usually don't hit a squad as hard they have attacked the Spartans this season. In fact, Michigan State's Jan. 16 practice marked the first time all year that all 13 scholarship players participated in the same practice. Maurice Ager (8), Rashi Johnson (8) and Adam Wolfe (8) have combined to miss 24 games due to injury, while several other Spartans have missed multiple practices throughout the year. While people understand the effect that missing games has on the team, the effect of missed practices is not as easy to comprehend. With a young Spartan team, practices are essential to developing continuity among teammates.

Getting To The Charity Stripe - Last season, Michigan State shot 77.1 percent (442-of-573) from the free throw line, ranking fifth in the nation. The problem was that MSU attempted just 18.5 free throws per game, finishing the year with just 12 more attempts than its opponents. This season, the Spartans are shooting 73.8 percent (271-of-367). The difference is that the Spartans are averaging 24.5 attempts per game. This means the Spartans are scoring almost four points a game more from the foul line this year. That is significant in that MSU lost five games last season by four points or less, including four in the Big Ten season. The Spartans lead the Big Ten in free throws made.

Not Always Free - Although the Spartans are getting to the free throw line more this year, they have struggled to convert in recent games. Through the first seven games of the year, Michigan State shot 77.7 percent (122-of-157) to lead the Big Ten Conference. In the next five games, MSU shot 67.6 percent (100-of-148). The Spartans regained their shooting touch against Ohio State, hitting 29-of-30 attempts, including the first 26 of the game. But just as quickly, they lost the touch vs. Iowa, converting just six of 14 attempts from the line, making one of four in the final two minutes. In the Spartans' six defeats, they are shooting 72.6 percent (98-of-135) from the line, compared to 74.6 percent (173-of-232) in victories.

Big Al - As one of Michigan State's two scholarship seniors, Aloysius Anagonye is counted on for solid contributions in the post. Over the last six games, he is averaging 8.8 points. On the season, he leads MSU with 5.9 rebounds per game, while ranking second in the Big Ten with a 64.4 field goal percentage (47-of-73).

Too Many Turnovers - Turnovers have been a problem for Michigan State all season long. The Spartans are averaging 16.0 turnovers per game and have a negative turnover margin at -0.7. In two games this year, MSU has committed at least 20 turnovers, including 20 vs. Cleveland State and 21 vs. Jacksonville State. Considering that the Spartans are shooting .463 from the field, it is easy to see that they are costing themselves several points per game, while giving up easy scoring opportunities for opponents in transition.

Looking For A Second Option - Chris Hill is leading Michigan State in scoring at 14.9 points per game. No other Spartans, however, are averaging double-figures. Michigan State has not had just one player average in double figures since the 1955-56 season when Julius McCoy averaged 27.2 points. While Hill is currently the only Spartan in double-figures, several players are contributing to the offensive attack as MSU has eight players averaging 5.5 points per game or more this season.

One For The Thumb - Last season, Michigan State missed becoming just the second team in Big Ten history to win five straight conference championships, finishing just one game out of first place. This season, however, the Spartans still have a chance to reach elite status by winning a fifth Big Ten crown in a span of six years. Only the Ohio State squads of 1960-64 that captured five championships in a row can claim such an honor.

Dominating The Big Ten - Since the 1997-98 season, Michigan State has posted a 65-18 Big Ten record, a remarkable winning percentage of .783. Illinois is the only other team to have as many as 50 conference wins over that same time period, posting a 53-30 mark. Michigan State was selected as the preseason favorite for the 2003 Big Ten Championship by both the league's media and coaches, prior to the start of the season.

Alan Of All Trades - Since returning from Alaska, Alan Anderson has been a steady contributor, while being asked to do a little bit of everything. The natural wing is usually asked to guard one of the opponents' top offensive perimeter players, and has also moved into duty as MSU's reserve point guard. In the last 11 games, Anderson is averaging 10.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. In Big Ten contests, he is averaging 11.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

From Way Downtown - In a year-and-a-half, Chris Hill has established himself as one of the finest shooters in Michigan State history. He currently ranks eighth on the MSU career list with 113 made three-pointers. His career three-point field-goal percentage of .448 ranks third in MSU history. This season, Hill is 47-of-104 (.452) from three-point range and 20-of-47 (.426) from inside the arc.

Wolfe's Return - Adam Wolfe appeared in the season opener vs. UNC Asheville in his first action since a Jan. 19 hamstring injury that left doubt as to whether he would ever play again. Due to inconsistency in his ability to practice in the days following the game, Wolfe underwent further rehabilitation, missing eight straight games. He returned to practice following the holiday break and has played in five of the last six games. Last season, Wolfe averaged 20.9 minutes, 9.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 17 contests.

Hill Ranks Among Big Ten Leaders - The Big Ten Conference recognizes individual statistics in 12 categories, nine of which do not include rebounding. Chris Hill ranks in the top 10 in sixth of them, including tied for ninth in scoring (14.9 ppg), eighth in assists (4.13 apg), second in steals (2.07 spg), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.452), first in three point field goals made (3.13) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32).

The Soft Touch - Senior Aloysius Anagonye is among the top field-goal shooters in Michigan State history. Anagonye is shooting .563 for his career (228-of-405), which ranks sixth in MSU history.

Block Party - Senior Aloysius Anagonye ranks third on the MSU career blocked shots list with 77 rejections. Anagonye's teammate, Adam Ballinger, is tied with Anthony Miller for ninth on the career blocks chart with 61.

The Breslin Experience - Although MSU's Big Ten-record 53-game homecourt winning streak was snapped in 2002, the Breslin Center continues to be one of college basketball's great homecourt advantages. Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Michigan State has won 66 of its last 69 regular-season games in Breslin, a winning percentage of .957. Additionally, the Breslin Center has been sold out for 75 consecutive regular-season games.

Coaching Consistency - One of the keys to MSU's success is continuity on the coaching staff. The four members of the coaching staff have been at MSU for a combined 43 years. Tom Izzo is in his 20th season as a Spartan, having spent the first 12 as an assistant. Associate head coach Brian Gregory is in his 10th year at MSU and fourth year in his current stint. Mike Garland is a college teammate of Izzo's and has been an assistant for seven of Izzo's eight years as head coach. Mark Montgomery is in his second season as an assistant, after four years (1988-92) as MSU's point guard.

Ranked Opponents - Five Spartan opponents are ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll released on Jan. 13, including No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 8 Illinois, No. 16 Kentucky, No. 17 Indiana and No. 24 Oklahoma State. In The Associated Press Top 25 released on Jan. 13, six opponents No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 8 Illinois, No. 16 Kentucky, No. 18 Indiana, No. 24 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Syracuse are ranked.

Hill Is Most Recent Wooden Nominee - Chris Hill is one of this year's 50 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-Americans. He is just the latest Spartan to be nominated for the prestigious award. Last season, Marcus Taylor was a preseason honoree. In 2000-01, both Charlie Bell and Andre Hutson were preseason nominees while Bell and Jason Richardson were among the 20 finalists. At season's end, Bell was named a Wooden All-American. During the 1999-2000 season, Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson were both recognized as Wooden All-Americans, an honor that Cleaves also received in 1999.

Air Time - Over the last four years, Michigan State has averaged over 29 television broadcasts per year, including more than 21 per year on national television networks. In 2002-03, MSU will have 24 regular-season games televised (not including postseason). Of those 24, 16 could be broadcast by national networks, including eight on ESPN, three on ESPN2 and five more on CBS.

Home To Mr. Basketball - The last four recipients of Michigan's Mr. Basketball Award, presented to the top high school player in the state, have all gone on to wear a Spartan jersey. Jason Richardson (Saginaw Arthur Hill HS) won the award in 1999, followed by Marcus Taylor (Lansing Waverly HS) in 2000, Kelvin Torbert (Flint Northwestern HS) in 2001 and Paul Davis (Rochester HS) in 2002.

The Golden Arches - Michigan State is becoming the home for McDonald's All-Americans. Over the past four seasons, five McDonald's All-Americans have joined the Spartan squad, including Jason Richardson in 1999, Marcus Taylor and McDonald's All-American All-Star game MVP Zach Randolph in 2000, Kelvin Torbert in 2001 and Paul Davis in 2002.

Spartans In The NBA - Michigan State led the Big Ten with eight players on opening day rosters in the NBA. Listed below is an update on eight former Spartans currently on NBA rosters: (Stats current through Jan. 12.)

	Mateen Cleaves (Sacramento): 5 GP, 4.4 mpg, 0.6 ppg, 0.8 apg,
	Jamie Feick (New Jersey): 0 GP, currently on injured list
	Morris Peterson (Toronto): 37 GP, 37.0 mpg, 14.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg
	Zach Randolph (Portland): 33 GP, 13.5 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg
	Jason Richardson (Golden State): 36 GP, 33.4 mpg, 15.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg
	Steve Smith (San Antonio): 29 GP, 23.7 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.6 apg
	Eric Snow (Philadelphia): 37 GP, 38.2 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.9 apg
	Kevin Willis (San Antonio): 30 GP, 11.4 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg

Spartans Keep Reloading - Michigan State signed three players to National Letters of Intent in the early signing period. The class is a consensus top-five class, including a No. 4 ranking from recruiting analyst Dave Telep.

Shannon Brown (G, 6-3, 190, Maywood, Ill./Proviso East) is the consensus pick as the No. 1 shooting guard in the nation. As a junior, he averaged 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals en route to earning first-team all-state honors. Overall, Dave Telep and Bob Gibbons have him ranked as the No. 9 player in the nation.

Brandon Cotton (G, 6-0, 170, Detroit/DePorres) averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior. He earned Class C All-State and All-Detroit honors from both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. Cotton is ranked the No. 17 player in the nation and No. 3 point guard in the country by Cotton led DePorres to a 17-4 record and a Catholic AA Division title.

Drew Naymick (C, 6-10, 235, Muskegon/North Muskegon) averaged 21.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.4 blocks as a junior, earning Class C All-State honors. He also shot a remarkable 70.6 percent from the field. Over the summer, he gained significant national experience while playing at the 2002 USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival (with Brown and Cotton) and participating at the Nike Camp where he was named to Dave Telep's All-Nike Camp team.