Feb. 5, 2013
THE OPENING TIP
The Last Meeting
December 31, 2012
After a weekend off, the Spartans are back in action, hosting Minnesota on Wednesday. The Golden Gophers have won two in a row following four straight Big Ten losses. At the midway point of the conference season, this is the first opponent that MSU will play twice, having fallen at Minnesota in the Big Ten opener, in a game that was a one-point contest with under three minutes left.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Spartans In Tough Stretch
Michigan State is in the early stages of a tough stretch of games. Beginning with the home game vs. Ohio State, Michigan State will play seven games against opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (Feb. 4) in a span of 11 games, and nine in the top 31 in the next 12 contests. The Minnesota game is just the fifth in a string of 12 games that will see the Spartans play nine games against teams that currently own a .500 or better conference record.
2. There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (14.0 ppg - 11th Big Ten) and assists (4.2 apg - 5th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in 12 games, and scoring 20 or more points four times, all coming in Spartan wins. He's also shown a knack to elevate his play in the final minutes of games. 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." He was named captain on Jan. 20. Following his 24-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist game against Illinois, he was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Feb. 4.
3. Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 323-45 (.878) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 167-34 (.831) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 249-30 (.892) at Breslin, including a 126-21 (.857) conference record. MSU has won 30 of the last 31 games at Breslin.
4. Harris Paces Big Ten Freshmen
In Big Ten games, Gary Harris leads all conference freshmen in scoring, averaging a team-best 13.3 points per contest. Harris also paces Big Ten freshmen in 3-point percentage in conference games at .512 (22-of-43), ranking third among all players. He also leads conference freshmen in overall scoring at 12.8 ppg.
5. Winning the Close Ones
In the Big Ten, where the margin between winning and losing can be so slim, it's important to come through in late game situations. That's been a strength for a Spartan team that is 7-2 in games decided by five points or less, including 3-1 in conference games. In the last three minutes of conference games, MSU is shooting .469 (15-32) from the field, and .786 (33-42) from the foul line, averaging just 0.8 turnovers per game (seven in nine games).
MSU VS. MINNESOTA NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Minnesota, 63-58, including a 39-19 advantage in games played in East Lansing. The Spartans have won 12 of the last 14, 17 of the last 20, and 22 of the last 27 meetings. MSU has won the last 13 meetings at Breslin Center. Tom Izzo has a 25-9 all-time record against the Golden Gophers.
Orlando "Tubby" Smith (High Point, '73) is 507-218 in his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach, including 120-73 in his sixth season with Minnesota. Prior to his arrival in Minneapolis, he spent 10 seasons as head coach at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA Championship. His head coaching career also includes a two-year stint at Georgia and four seasons at Tulsa. With a win over USC on Dec. 8, Smith became the 19th current active Division I coach to reach the 500-win plateau.
The Last Meeting
Minnesota defeated Michigan State, 76-63, on Dec. 31. The Gophers tried to break away midway through the first half, using an 8-0 run in less than a minute to take a 37-25 advantage with 4:53 remaining and Keith Appling on the bench with two fouls. MSU, however, closed the stanza on a 13-2 run, including three 3-pointers from Travis Trice, the final one coming immediately before the halftime buzzer. In the second half, Minnesota jumped out to a 51-44 lead, but an 11-0 Spartan run put MSU in front for the next eight minutes. Poor shooting and turnovers plagued MSU down the stretch as the Spartans shot just 2-of-14 over the final 8:02, while committing five turnovers. Minnesota closed the game on a 12-0 run after the Spartans trailed just 64-63 with less than three minutes remaining.
The Last Meeting In East Lansing
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo won his 400th career game as MSU defeated Minnesota, 68-52, on Jan. 25, 2012, in East Lansing. The Spartans led by as many as 13 points in the first half before the Gophers trimmed the lead back to seven points. Draymond Green hit a contested 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give MSU a 37-27 advantage at the half. Green finished the first half with 13 points and seven rebounds. In the second half, Minnesota pulled within five points at 46-41 with 9:53 remaining. Branden Dawson turned the ball over, but made an open-court steal and was intentionally fouled. The play sparked an 11-3 run that pushed the Spartan lead up to 57-44 with 4:30 left. Green finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Dawson scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half. MSU shot 54.2 percent for the game, compared to 38.3 percent for Minnesota.
Golden Gopher Notes
Minnesota is among the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten, out-rebounding opponents by a +9.1 margin, ranking second in the conference ... The Gophers grab a Big Ten-best 46.9 percent of their misses on the offensive glass, averaging 15.6 offensive rebounds ... Minnesota paces the Big Ten with 6.2 blocks per game ... Four different Gophers average double figures in scoring, and all five starters average 9.5 points per game or more.
GM. 22 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 80 - ILLINOIS 75
Michigan State defeated Illinois, 80-75, on Jan. 31. Illinois scored the first eight points of the game and held the lead for entire first half. MSU trimmed the deficit to three points with under three minutes left, but the Illini scored the next seven points in taking a 37-27 halftime lead. Turnovers were the story of the first half, as MSU committed nine in the first half, while Illinois committed only one. The Spartans opened the second half on a 14-0 run, as Illinois committed four turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half. MSU never led by more than eight points, but Illinois could never retake the lead. The Spartans were remarkably efficient in the second half, making 87.5 percent (14-of-16) of their shots.
MSU VS. ILLINOIS NOTES
* The Spartans shot twice as well in the second half (.875) as they did in the first half (.423).
* The two teams combined for three free throw attempts in the first half and 46 in the second half.
* Keith Appling scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, and scored or assisted on 11 of MSU's 14 second-half field goals.
* Denzel Valentine scored a season-high 14 points.
* MSU committed nine first-half turnovers, compared to just one for Illinois. In the second half, the Spartans had just five and the Illini had seven.
* Adreian Payne played a career-high 38 minutes, marking his fourth straight game playing more than 30 minutes.
* Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix all played 20 second-half minutes.
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 465 of 603 opponents (.771), posting a 370-95 (.796) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 20 of 22 opponents this season, losing the only game in which they were out-rebounded (Minnesota). They rank 3rd in the Big Ten and 18th in the nation with a +7.4 rebounding margin.
Limiting Turnovers In Conference Play
One area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 14.3 per game, including five games with 19 or more. In Big Ten play, however, MSU has done a much better job, averaging 12.4 per conference game. MSU has recorded 14 or fewer turnovers in seven of nine Big Ten games, winning all seven.
Payne's Improved Play
Over the last seven games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.3 points, shooting 33-of-49 (.673) from the field, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range. A look at the Big Ten stats shows that Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten, ranking fourth in the conference in rebounding (6.9 rpg), second in field-goal percentage (.605) and eighth in blocks (1.2 bpg). He also ranks fourth on the Spartans in scoring at 9.4 points per contest. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played 20 minutes or more in just 11 games. He's recorded three double-doubles this season, each one of them in 22 minutes or less. However, he is averaging 34.0 minutes over the last four games, recording four of the five 30-minute games of his career.
Given the fact that Branden Dawson had ACL surgery just last March (two days after suffering the injury in the regular-season finale vs. Ohio State), it's remarkable that he has not missed even a single practice this season. Over the last eight games, he seems to have elevated his play to another level, averaging 12.4 points and 8.3 rebounds, including career highs in both scoring (18 points) and rebounding (13 rebounds) at Wisconsin. On the season, he ranks third on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg), second in rebounding (6.8 rpg), and third in minutes played (27.3 mpg).
Appling On Cousy List
Keith Appling is one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation's top point guard. Appling 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. In conference games, Appling ranks third in the Big Ten in assists (4.4 apg), tied for third in steals (1.8 spg), and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9). Overall, he ranks fifth in assists (4.2 apg) and eighth in steals (1.5 spg).
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded a team-best 39 steals (1.8 spg), ranking fourth in the Big Ten, and 22 blocks (1.0 bpg), ranking second on the team and tied for 13th in the Big Ten. He is the only player 6-foot-6 or taller to rank in the Top 15 in steals, and the only one 6-foot-6 or shorter in the Top 15 in blocks. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. Keith Appling ranks second on the team and eighth in the Big Ten with 34 steals (1.5 spg), while Adreian Payne leads the team and ranks eighth in the Big Ten with 26 blocks (1.2 bpg).
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +10.6 points (34.8-24.2), out-scoring 18 of its 22 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), Texas (30-16), and Ohio State (34-14).
Big Ten Win No. 200
Tom Izzo recorded his 200th Big Ten victory with MSU's 81-72 win at Penn State. He joins Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) as the only coaches in a power six conference with 200 conference wins at their current school. Mike Montgomery (California) has more than 200 Pac 12 wins, but a majority of those came in a previous stint with Stanford. With 203 Big Ten wins, Izzo trails Bob Knight (353), Gene Keady (265), Ward Lambert (228), Lou Henson (214), and Branch McCracken (210).
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 561-452 (.554) in league play, including 203-92 (.688) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 203 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 203-92, 17 games better than second-place Wisconsin (186-109).
MSU's Center Tandem
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne combine to give Michigan State a steady inside presence. Although they often will take the floor together, at least one of them is usually in the game. Combined, they average 18.4 ppg and 13.4 rpg. Both of them are also shooting over 52 percent from the field.
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris ranks second on the team and leads Big Ten freshmen in scoring at 12.8 points per contest. If you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging 13.5 ppg. 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 13.3 ppg in Big Ten play, leading conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (37) and attempted (90), and has made 51.2 percent (22-of-43) of his shots from behind the arc in conference action.
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 167 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 (154), Kentucky (149), Duke (147) and Connecticut (140). (Through Feb. 5)
Another Izzo Milestone
Tom Izzo became the third-winningest coach in Big Ten history with Michigan State's win vs. Purdue on Jan. 5. The victory was win No. 424, passing Lou Henson (423 wins; 1975-96). Izzo (430 wins) now trails just Bob Knight (662; 1971-2000) and Gene Keady (512; 1980-2005).
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee) and Branden Dawson (Connecticut, Purdue, Wisconsin) lead the way with three. Derrick Nix (Tuskegee and Texas) has 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 .387 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .316 from 3-point range, ranking sixth. MSU also ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 59.4 points per contest. In MSU's two conference losses, the Spartans have allowed 75.5 points on .538 shooting, as Minnesota and Indiana are the only two Big Ten teams to shoot over 50 percent from the field.
Improved 3-Point Shooting
Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last nine games, the Spartans are shooting .405 (51-of-126) from behind the arc, ranking second in the Big Ten. The high percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Adreian Payne (.700; 7-of-10), Gary Harris (.512; 22-of-43) and Travis Trice (.385; 10-of-26) in conference action.
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 42 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 17 times. Through 22 games, MSU is shooting .468 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick 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 two double-doubles this season. 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 five different starting lineups this year. Eight current Spartans are averaging 8.9 minutes or more per game, and 10 are averaging 4.6 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.
Appling At Winning Time
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, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. 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. Against Ohio State, he had a direct hand in MSU's final nine points, including scoring the Spartans' final six points in the last 41 seconds; assisting on Adreian Payne's three-point play, driving past Aaron Craft for a go-ahead layup, scoring on a breakaway dunk and sealing the game with two free throws with 7.9 seconds left. After the OSU victory, Coach Tom Izzo remarked "Appling at winning time has been as good as anybody." Against Illinois, Appling scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, scoring or assisting on 11 of MSU's 14 second-half field goals. He scored nine points in the game's final 4:22.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (12.8 ppg) and minutes (28.5 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.5 apg), fourth in rebounds (3.9 rpg) and sixth in minutes (20.9 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 4.6 minutes in the 16 games in which he's played.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 256-196, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +2.7 points per game (11.6-8.9). The Spartans are averaging 11.4 offensive boards per game, with an offensive rebound percentage of .355.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 1), Michigan (No. 3), Ohio State (No. 10), Michigan State (No. 12), and Minnesota (No. 18) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Feb. 4). To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined eight games against those four 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 ranks sixth in Michigan State history with 93 career blocks. Ken Johnson ranks fifth with 96, while Matt Steigenga ranks fourth with 97. 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. On Jan. 20, Izzo announced that Keith Appling was added as a team captain.
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 430-173 (.713), and 203-92 (.688) 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 .688 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 (.708), 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 (.724), Izzo (.713), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 203 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.