MSU Spartans
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Men's Basketball
First-Place Spartans Travel To Minnesota
 
 
 
The Spartans play at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
 
The Spartans play at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
 
 

Feb. 21, 2012

#6/6 Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) vs. Minnesota (17-10, 5-9)
 Date Wednesday, Feb. 22
 Time 8:30 p.m. ET
 Location Minneapolis, Minn. | Williams Arena
 Television Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson, Shon Morris)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
 Tickets Available at GopherSports.com.
 Game Notes Michigan State | Minnesota
 Statistics  Michigan State | Minnesota
 Internet Coverage   Gametracker
 Social Media @MSU_Basketball   |  Facebook

The Opening Tip
Michigan State enters the final two weeks of the regular season with a one-game lead in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans travel to Minnesota to face a Golden Gopher team fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. This is the middle game for MSU in a stretch of five games in 13 days. The Spartans have won six true road games this season, including four in Big Ten play.

The Starting Five
1. Spartan Staples

Tom Izzo has built the Michigan State program on rebounding and defense, two elements at which the Spartans are exceling this season. MSU is holding teams to a .371 field-goal percentage, the lowest total of the Tom Izzo era. The previous low was .384 in 2006-07. MSU's rebounding margin of +10.1 is the third-best margin of the Izzo era, and the best since posting a +15.4 margin in 2001. MSU currently ranks third in the nation in field-goal percentage defense and third in rebounding margin, as the only team in the nation to rank in the Top 5 in both categories (Through Feb. 19).

2. Spartans On The Road
Michigan State is 6-3 in true road games this season, including wins over #23 Gonzaga, #18 Wisconsin and #3 Ohio State - three of the toughest places to win in the country. One of the keys to the Spartans' road success has been their defense, holding opponents to .368 shooting, including .269 from 3-point range. In the six road wins, those numbers improve to .332 (.250 3FG%). In MSU's six road wins, Draymond Green is averaging 19.5 points. MSU's three wins over ranked opponents are tied with Cincinnati for most in the nation. This year's Spartan team became the first MSU squad to win at Purdue, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the same season since 1997-98.

3. Big Ten Defense
Michigan State's defense has been great all season, but the effort in Big Ten play has been nothing short of phenomenal. The Spartans lead the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.370), .032 better than second place Ohio State, while also pacing the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.272). Despite their up-tempo style, the Spartans rank second in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 57.9 points per game, just 0.8 ppg behind Wisconsin.

4. A Well-Rounded Team
MSU's defense has rightfully garnered a lot of attention, as has its rebounding prowess. But the Spartans have also proven to be a talented offensive squad. In conference games, the Spartans lead the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.479), while ranking third in scoring offense (69.6 ppg), and fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.363).

5. The Nation's Most Versatile Player
Draymond Green leads the nation with five games of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this year. In fact, he had as many last week (2) as any other player in the nation has had all season. Since 1996-97, Evan Turner is the only player from a power six conference to have more such games in a single season, recording seven in 2009-10. Tim Duncan (1996-97) is the only other player with as many as five in one season.

MSU vs. Minnesota Notes
Series History

Michigan State leads the all-time series with Minnesota, 62-57. The Golden Gophers, however, own a 35-22 advantage in Minneapolis. The Spartans have won 11 of the last 12, 16 of the last 18, and 21 of the last 25 meetings. MSU has won 12 straight games at Breslin Center. Tom Izzo has a 24-8 all-time record against the Golden Gophers.

Coach Smith
Orlando "Tubby" Smith (High Point, '73) is 484-208 in his 21st season as a collegiate head coach, including 97-63 in his fourth 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.

The Last Meeting
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.

The Last Meeting In Minneapolis
Michigan State defeated Minnesota, 53-48, on Feb. 22, 2011, in Minneapolis. Trailing 21-19 at the half, the Spartans opened the second half on a 9-2 run, and held a narrow lead for most of the period. Minnesota, however, used a 9-0 run to take a 47-39 lead with 4:31 left. The Spartan defense took over, allowing the Gophers just one point for the rest of the game on 0-of-6 shooting. Keith Appling hit two free throws with 1:22 left to tie the game and two more with 27 seconds left to take the lead. Mike Kebler put the game away with two free throws with 11 seconds remaining. Kalin Lucas led MSU with 18 points, while Trevor Mbakwe paced Minnesota with 13 points and 10 rebounds. MSU shot 36.7 percent from the field, while UM shot 37.5 percent.

Golden Gopher Notes
Minnesota leads the Big Ten in blocked shots (5.1 bpg) ... Ten Gophers average double figures in minutes in conference play, with only Rodney Williams averaging more than 28 ... Trevor Mbakwe was leading the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg) before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game of the season; Mbakwe and Green were teammates with USA Basketball at the World University Games.

Gm. 27 Recap
Michigan St. 76 - Purdue 62

Michigan State used a 10-0 run to take an early 12-7 lead, but Purdue rode 18 first-half points from Robbie Hummel to take a 38-35 lead into the break, as the Boilermakers shot 47.1 percent from the field. Michigan State stayed close with 10 points from Derrick Nix. In the second half, MSU turned up the defensive effort, not allowing Purdue to score for the first 6:06 of the half. With MSU holding a 45-43 lead, Draymond Green went on an 8-0 run by himself, including a three-point play and a 3-pointer, pushing MSU's lead up to 53-43. The lead would grow to as many as 16 points and never dipped below eight after that. Draymond Green finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Branden Dawson added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Austin Thornton scored a career-high 17 points, as the Spartans shot 50.8 percent from the field and held the Boilermakers to 33.8 percent shooting for the contest, including just 22.9 percent in the second half.

MSU vs. Purdue Notes
* MSU's defense forced Purdue to miss 22 of its first 23 shots in the second half.
* Austin Thornton scored a career-high 17 points.
* After committing seven turnovers in the first half, the Spartans recorded just two in the second half, equaling the season low with nine.
* Branden Dawson recorded his third double-double of the season, while Draymond Green recorded his 15th of the year.
* Michigan State recorded its first regular-season two-game sweep of Purdue since 2004-05.
* Draymond Green scored 20 points for the 12th time in his career, including seven times this season.
* Michigan State dominated the paint, out-scoring the Boilermakers, 36-12.
* After being out-rebounded in the first meeting, MSU held a 44-32 edge on the boards.

MSU Basketball Notes
Draymond In Exclusive Company

Currently averaging 15.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 3.7 apg, Draymond Green is looking to become the first player from a power six conference to average 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in a season since Tim Duncan accomplished the feat in 1996-97. Duncan averaged 20.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a senior at Wake Forest. (Courtesy ESPN Research)

Green's Weekly Honors
For the second week in a row and third time in the last four weeks, Draymond Green was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Feb. 20. He averaged 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in Spartan wins over Wisconsin and at Purdue. He had as many 20-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist games last week (2) as any other player in the nation has had all season. Green is a four-time winner of the Big Ten weekly award (Feb. 20, Feb. 13, Jan. 30, Dec. 12). On Feb. 21, Green's performance was also recognized by the USBWA with the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week award. Earlier this season, he was also named National Player of the Week by ESPN.com's Andy Katz and ESPN's Dick Vitale following his 34-point effort in a win at Gonzaga.

Strength of Schedule
According to ESPN.com's InsideRPI Daily (Feb. 21), Michigan State's strength of schedule ranks No. 2 in the country. The Spartans have played 15 of 27 games vs. the RPI Top 100 and 20 of 27 vs. the RPI Top 150. Three of MSU's final four games will be against teams with an RPI of 70 or better, including two in the Top 20. MSU leads the nation with seven wins against the RPI Top 25 and six wins over ranked opponents.

Strong Spartan Defense
MSU's defensive effort has been impressive this season. The Spartans are allowing just 58.6 points (ranking 13th in the nation through Feb. 19) on .371 shooting (3rd in nation), including .284 from 3-point range (8th in nation). The Spartans rank third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, first in field-goal percentage defense and second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. Only two teams have shot 50 percent or better from the field, while 20 have shot under 41 percent, including four below 30 percent.

Complete The Possession
Michigan State ranking third in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.371) and eighth in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.284) is quite impressive, but not as effective if a team can't grab a rebound. The Spartans, however, also rank third in the nation in rebound margin (+10.1), as MSU is the only team in the country to rank in the Top 10 nationally in all three categories.

How Valuable Is Draymond?
Draymond Green has led MSU in rebounding in 21 of 27 games, including 12 of 14 Big Ten contests. In fact, the only one he didn't lead in was at Illinois where he played just 16 minutes due to foul trouble and injury. He's led MSU in scoring in 13 games, and paced the Spartans in assists in nine contests. In three of the last seven games, he's led in scoring, rebounding and assists. He's the only player in the Big Ten to rank in the top 10 in scoring (9th), rebounding (1st) and assists (9th). In fact, no other player in the Big Ten ranks in the Top 15 in all three categories.

Dawson's Emergence
Branden Dawson scored in single digits in his first six Big Ten games. He's become a much more effective scorer in the last eight games, averaging 11.1 ppg, scoring in double figures in six of the last eight, and grabbing 6.6 boards per contest. He's posted two double-doubles in the stretch at Illinois (12 pts., 13 reb.) and at Purdue (15 pts., 11 reb.) He's shooting .597 (37-of-62) from the field over the last seven games. He's scored in double-figures 12 times this season, and ranks third on the team in scoring at 8.9 ppg. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Jan. 30. In conference games, he ranks third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.580) and offensive rebounds (2.6 orpg).

Draymond In Position For Individual Honors
With an outstanding senior season, Draymond Green has put himself in position to earn a nice collection of individual accolades. One of the leading contenders for Big Ten Player of the Year, he is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. He's on the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, and was recently named one of 20 players on Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Green is also on the Naismith Award Watch list. Fans can vote for Green to win the Senior CLASS Award at www.seniorclassaward.com. To learn more about Draymond Green visit msuspartans.com/draymondgreen23.

Harris Named McDonald's All-American
Michigan State men's basketball signee Gary Harris was named a McDonald's All-American on Thursday, Feb. 9. The prep senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., is the 11th recruit under MSU head coach Tom Izzo to earn McDonald's All-America honors. Harris will suit up for the East squad in the game at Chicago's United Center on March 28, becoming the 15th McDonald's All-American to play for Michigan State dating back to 1977. Current Spartans Keith Appling (2010) and Branden Dawson (2011) were also McDonald's All-Americans.

Green Attacks The Glass
Draymond Green leads the Big Ten at 10.5 rebounds per game, ranking 14th in the nation (through Feb. 19), including a conference-best 11.1 rebounds per game in league contests. His 10.5 overall average is the best for a Spartan since Antonio Smith averaged 10.6 rpg as a sophomore in 1996-97. Goran Suton led the Big Ten in rebounding in 2009, and prior to that, the last Spartan to pace the conference was Smith in 1997. Green has grabbed double-figure rebounds in 18 games, including 10 of the last 12 and 13 of the last 17. He has led MSU in rebounding in 21 of 27 games this season. He's recorded 14 or more boards in four of the last 12 games.

20-Win Seasons
With a 58-48 win at Ohio State, Michigan State recorded its 12th 20-win season in the last 15 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 20 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 17 of them, 12 as a head coach and five as an assistant.

Spartan Double-Doubles
Four different Spartans have recorded a double-double this season. Draymond Green leads the way with 15 double-doubles, pacing the Big Ten and ranking 7th in the nation (through Feb. 19). Green has posted a double-double in 11 of the last 16 games. Branden Dawson has posted three double-doubles, and Adreian Payne and Brandon Wood have each recorded one double-double. Green has tallied 33 career double-doubles, ranking third by a Spartan since 1975-76, trailing only Greg Kelser (48) and Mike Peplowski (35). He (15.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg) is looking to become the first Spartan to average a double-double since Mike Peplowski in 1993 (14.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg).

It's All About Boardwork
After leading the nation in rebounding margin in both 2009 (+9.3) and 2010 (+8.6), Michigan State ranked 48th in the nation last season at +4.0. The Spartans have returned to their dominant ways in 2011-12, out-rebounding 24 of 27 opponents by a +10.1 margin, including eight by 15 or more, leading the Big Ten and ranking third in the nation (through Feb. 16). The Spartans have led the nation in rebounding margin in four of the last 12 seasons, ranking in the top 10 seven times and the top 25 on 10 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in 11 of the last 14 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 440 of 571 opponents (.771), posting a 347-93 (.789) mark in those games.

Defending The Three
Last season, Michigan State ranked eighth in the Big Ten, allowing teams to shoot .364 from 3-point range. This year, the Spartans rank second in the conference and eighth in the nation (through Feb. 19), allowing opponents to shoot just .284 from behind the arc, while ranking first in conference games (.272). MSU has held 10 opponents to a .250 or lower shooting percentage from behind the arc. That happened just four times all of last season. Seventeen opponents have shot .300 or lower, including 10 of the last 13.

Finding The Long Distance Connection
Through the first six games of the season, MSU was shooting just .269 from 3-point range (32-119). In the last 21 games, however, the Spartans have been on target, connecting on .393 of their shots (116-295) from behind the arc. In league games, MSU ranks fourth in the conference at .363.

Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 12 Big Ten Championships, including two of the last three, 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 552-448 (.552) in league play, including 194-88 (.688) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 194 conference wins. Izzo has guided MSU to six of its 12 league crowns. Since Izzo's first season (1995-96), MSU has a Big Ten-best record of 194-88, 17 games better than second place Wisconsin (177-105).

Spartans Earn Weekly Big Ten Honors
Two Spartans were honored by the Big Ten office on Jan. 30. Draymond Green was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the second time this season, sharing the award with Nebraska's Brandon Richardson. Green was also honored on Dec. 12. Branden Dawson becomes the first Spartan to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Keith Appling has been named player of the week twice this season.

MSU's Mr. Everything
Coach Izzo has explained that he hasn't had a player asked to do as much for a team as Draymond Green, and the numbers prove it. In addition to being the unquestioned leader of the squad, Green leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounding (10.5 rpg), minutes (32.8 mpg), steals (37) and 3-point field goals (34), while ranking second in assists (3.7 apg) and blocks (25). He leads the Big Ten in rebounding and defensive rebounds (8.3 drpg), while ranking seventh in offensive rebounds (2.2 orpg), eighth in scoring, ninth in assists, tied for 10th in steals, tied for 11th in blocks, and 14th in assist/turnover ratio.

400 Wins
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo recorded his 400th win at MSU with the Spartans' 68-52 win over Minnesota. The school's all-time winningest coach with 405 wins, he is just the fourth coach to win 400 games at a Big Ten institution, joining Bob Knight (661 wins), Gene Keady (512) and Lou Henson (423).

The Perfect Spartan
While Draymond Green's statistical contributions are significant and impressive, his best quality is his leadership. Green is in his third year as a captain, becoming just the fifth three-time captain in school history. Coach Tom Izzo recently called Green "the perfect Spartan," saying that he's becoming "the face of Michigan State athletics" like Mateen Cleaves or Kirk Cousins. Said Izzo, "I have something that you don't get very often ... I've got a guy who is my voice. And he's kind of my personality, which makes it even better for me."

Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State ranks 22nd in the nation and first in the Big Ten in assists with 15.7 per game (NCAA ranking through Feb. 19). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 60.0 percent of their baskets. Over the last 20 games, the Spartans are averaging 16.7 assists. Individually, Keith Appling is averaging 4.5 assists in the last 20 contests.

Appling Locks Them Up
Besides everything Keith Appling provides on the offensive end of the floor, leading the team in assists and ranking second in scoring, he is perhaps even more impressive on the defensive end where he is emerging as one of the premier defenders in the league. Named MSU's Best Defensive Player as a freshman, Appling is terrific at running through screens and not allowing his man an open look. Consider some of his better efforts. UMKC's Reggie Chaimberlain entered the game averaging 19.0 points, but was limited to 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting. IU's Jordan Hulls was held to 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting, after entering the contest averaging 12.1 points. In the second game vs. Wisconsin, Appling held pre-season All-American Jordan Taylor to 13 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Climbing The Rebounding Charts
With 985 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks fourth in MSU history, 31 behind Antonio Smith (1,016) in third place. He is on the verge of becoming just the fourth player in MSU history with 1,000 career boards, and the third player with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, joining Greg Kelser and Johnny Green. Currently 107 rebounds behind Kelser (1,092), Green would need to play 11 more games at his current 10.5 average to become MSU career rebounding leader. This season, Green leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th in the nation in rebounding (through Feb. 19). He also ranks 7th in the nation with 15 double-doubles.

Spartans Shooting Better
Michigan State got off to a slow start in terms of field-goal percentage this season, shooting .306 from the field against North Carolina outdoors on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Over the first six games of the season, MSU shot .423 from the field and .238 from 3-point range. In the last 21 games, however, MSU has shown dramatic improvement, hitting .491 from the field and .393 from 3-point range. The Spartans have shot over 50 percent in 11 of the last 20 games, including four contests at 60 percent or better. In Big Ten games, MSU leads the conference at .479.

Consistent Starting Lineup
Michigan State has used the same starting lineup (Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Brandon Wood) for 20 of its 27 games. Appling and Dawson have started all 27 games, while Green and Payne have started 26. Appling, Dawson, Green, Payne and Austin Thornton have started the last five.

Becoming A Point Guard
Keith Appling has been asked to make the transition from the wing to point guard for Michigan State this season. As the season progresses, Appling seems more at home in his new position. While he did not have an assist in the first two games of the season, he's averaging 4.1 assists in his last 25 games with a 1.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 5 and then again on Jan. 2. He's averaging 4.5 assists in the last 20 games, including a career-best 9 vs. Iowa, and has seven or more assists in six of the last 20 games. He owns a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the last 20 contests. In conference games, he ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 4.2 assists per game and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6).

Second-Chance Points
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 370-242, in second chance points for the season. That's an average of +4.7 points per game (13.7-9.0). The Spartans are averaging 12.8 offensive boards per game, leading the Big Ten. MSU has 345 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 528 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .395, ranking first in the conference. The Spartans have grabbed 20 or more offensive boards four times this season.

What A Difference A Year Makes
Derrick Nix is averaging 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 18.9 minutes per contest. That's a contrast to last season when Nix averaged just 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds for the season. Nix has even elevated his play recently, averaging 8.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in the last 20 games. In the first 73 games of his career, Nix scored in double figures just three times; he's done it nine times in the last 20 contests, scoring eight or more points in 13 of the last 20 games. He's been MSU's first sub in 23 of the 26 games in which he's come off the bench.

New Faces
Six of the 11 players in the Spartan playing group are seeing their first action in a Michigan State uniform (Russell Byrd, Branden Dawson, Alex Gauna, Brandan Kearney, Travis Trice, Brandon Wood). The six are averaging 35.0 percent of the scoring and 39.8 percent of the minutes. There are just two players on the 2011-12 roster (Keith Appling and Draymond Green) who averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season for MSU.

Guard Rebounding
One of the reasons that MSU is able to rank among the nation's leaders in rebounding margin is that its guards have been strong on the glass. The Spartans' starting backcourt of Keith Appling (3.1 rpg), Austin Thornton (3.4 rpg) and Branden Dawson (5.0 rpg) averages 11.5 boards per contest.

Balanced Scoring
Eight different Spartans have led Michigan State in scoring this season. Draymond Green (13 times), Keith Appling (six times), Branden Dawson (four times), Brandon Wood (twice), Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Austin Thornton and Travis Trice also have each paced MSU.

The Turnover Story
One area of concern for the Spartans has been the turnovers. MSU is committing 13.5 per game (although just 12.5 in the last 20 games), while forcing 13.4 by its opponents. The Spartans are averaging 15.5 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 11.8 points by opponents off MSU turnovers. The Spartans are 10-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent, but 9-5 when they have more (3-0 when turnovers are equal).

In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of 35.0-22.2, out-scoring 23 of its 27 opponents. The Spartans even out-scored No. 1 North Carolina in the paint, 34-32, despite the Tar Heels having what some consider to be the premier frontline in the country.

Getting To The Foul Line
Over the first five games of the season, Michigan State was shooting just .629 from the foul line. That has improved recently, as the Spartans are shooting .717 over the last 22 games. For the season, MSU is shooting .698 from the foul line, averaging 21.7 attempts per game ranking fourth in attempts per game.

The 1,000-Point Club
With a second-half tip-in vs. Florida State, Draymond Green became the 42nd player in MSU history to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career. With 1,332 points, he ranks 22nd in MSU history, needing 46 to move past Julius McCoy (1,377 points).

Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season (including 2011-12 - through Feb. 19), the year of Michigan State's first of 14 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 154 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 (147), Connecticut (143), Kentucky (140) and Duke (138).

Toughest Start Ever
Michigan State opened the season with the toughest start in the nation with back-to-back neutral-site contests vs. No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. MSU is the first team to open the season against North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games since Wake Forest and North Carolina State did it in November 1976. Michigan State also has never opened a season with two games against ranked opponents.

In The Rankings
Seven different Spartan opponents are ranked in at least one of the two polls, including Duke (5 AP/4 USA Today), North Carolina (7/7), Ohio State (8/9), Michigan (11/13), Florida State (15/16), Wisconsin (16/15), and Indiana (23/24). MSU is ranked No. 6 by the AP and No. 6 by ESPN/USA Today.

U-S-A, U-S-A
Keith Appling and Draymond Green both benefitted from their experiences with USA Basketball over the summer. Green was a member of the World University Games team, averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, ranking second on the team in boards, and serving as a distributor from the forward position. Appling played with the FIBA U19 World Championship team, averaging 4.1 points and 10.3 minutes per contest, gaining some valuable experience at the point.

Same Name, Different Spellings
Among MSU's newcomers, three have the same first name, but it's spelled three different ways. Branden Dawson, Brandan Kearney and Brandon Wood each have a different second-to-last lettter in the first name. Pay close attention to eliminate typos.

The Book On Tom Izzo
Coach Izzo

In his 17th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 405-166 (.709), and 194-88 (.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 16 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors four times, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001. 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 earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and 2009.

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 (.709), 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 (.728), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.709). With 194 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.

Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 16 seasons, Tom Izzo won 383 games, ranking sixth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 16 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 (Tulsa). 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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