Feb. 22, 2014
|#13/14 Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) vs. #20/20 Michigan (18-7, 10-3)
||Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014
||12 p.m. ET
||Ann Arbor, Mich. | Crisler Center
||CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery)
||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
| Game Notes
||Michigan State | Michigan
|| Michigan State | Michigan
| Internet Coverage
| Social Media
||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State and Michigan meet Sunday in a showdown between the top two teams in the Big Ten, as the Spartans and Wolverines are tied in the loss column atop the standings. This will be the sixth straight meeting where MSU and UM are both ranked, after a span of 13 years with just the Spartans in the Top 25.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. The Complete Package
Gary Harris gets a lot of notoriety for his scoring, as he ranks third in the Big Ten (17.8 ppg). But what makes him special is his ability to be a difference maker on both ends of the court, leading the Spartans with 48 steals, ranking third in the conference (2.0 spg). In Big Ten action, he ranks fourth in scoring (17.5 ppg) and second in steals (2.5 spg).
2. Payne Returns With A Bang
After missing seven games with a right foot sprain, Adreian Payne has been a force in his return, averaging 18.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games. He's started the last four contests, averaging 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds, including scoring 24 points against Wisconsin, 20 against Northwestern, adding 14 rebounds against the Wildcats, and 23 points at Purdue. In five games, he's shooting .542 from the field, .444 from 3-point range and .750 from the foul line, averaging 26.8 minutes.
3. Spartans Away From Home
Michigan State is 11-2 away from home this season, including 7-1 on an opponent's home court, and 4-1 on a neutral court. It marks the first time in school history that MSU won at least its first seven games away from East Lansing, opening with wins in its first 10 games away from home. MSU won its first five true road games by 14 points or more, marking the first time in school history it has accomplished that feat during a single season, and has won six of its eight road games by 14 or more points. MSU has been especially dominant in the second half of true road games, out-scoring opponents by an average of +9.6 points. In its seven Big Ten road games, MSU is holding opponents to 61.3 points and a .393 field-goal percentage, while out-rebounding opponents by a +6.1 margin.
4. 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 27 opponents are shooting .391 from the floor, ranking second in the Big Ten and 17th in the nation (NCAA stats through Feb. 20), including .324 from 3-point range, ranking fifth in the conference. In conference games, MSU ranks first in field-goal percentage defense (.403) and blocks (5.3 bpg), second in steals (7.2 spg), and fourth in scoring defense (65.4 ppg).
5. 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 40 games, he is 42-of-100 (.420), averaging more than one made 3-pointer per contest. On 12 occasions, including nine times this season, he's made more than one in a game.
MSU VS. MICHIGAN NOTES
Michigan leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 96-76, including a 59-29 advantage in games played in Ann Arbor. MSU has won 20 of the last 28 games overall. Tom Izzo is 20-13 in his career against the Wolverines.
John Beilein (Butler, `90) is 691-410 in his 36th season as a collegiate head coach, including 135-89 in his seventh season at Michigan. His coaching career also includes stints at West Virginia, Richmond, Canisius, LeMoyne, Nazareth and Erie Community College.
The Last Meeting In Ann Arbor
Michigan defeated Michigan State, 58-57, on March 3, 2013, in Ann Arbor. MSU took a 31-24 lead with 1:03 remaining in the first half. Michigan, however, scored two late baskets, and trailed by just three points at the half, 31-28. The Wolverines opened the second half on an 8-0 run, and held a 52-42 lead with 4:36 left. MSU responded with a 14-4 spurt over the next 3:42 to tie the game at 56. Keith Appling capped the run with two free throws, following his steal of Trey Burke. The Spartans then forced another Wolverine turnover, gaining control of the ball with 32 seconds left. Burke then stole the ball from Appling and raced downcourt for a dunk. Derrick Nix went to the foul line with 8.8 seconds left, but he hit just one of two shots. UM missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Burke recorded a game-clinching steal. MSU shot a season-low .356 from the field and UM turned 18 Spartan turnovers into 18 points. Adreian Payne led MSU with 17 points and 16 rebounds, while Gary Harris added 16 points. Trey Burke led all players with 21 points and eight assists.
The Last Meeting
Michigan defeated Michigan State, 80-75, on Jan. 25, 2014, in East Lansing. UM hit its first four shots in jumping out to a 10-2 lead. Michigan State then cranked up the defense, allowing the Wolverines to hit just two of their next 12 shots, as the Spartans used a 19-6 run to take a 21-16 lead, eventually taking a 36-30 lead into halftime. In the second half, Michigan tied the score at 53 with 7:47 remaining. Just over three minutes later, Keith Appling gave MSU a 60-58 lead, but Michigan tied it with two free throws. Appling then drove for another layup, but Jon Horford blocked his shot and Nik Stauskas hit a transition 3-pointer. On MSU's next possession, Horford once again blocked Appling's layup, resulting in a three-point play for Derrick Walton Jr. The Wolverines sealed the win by hitting 14-of-16 foul shots in the final two minutes. Gary Harris scored a career-high 27 points to lead all scorers and Keith Appling recorded his first double-double with 10 points and a career-high 10 assists. Stauskas and Walton Jr., led the Wolverines with 19 points each.
Michigan leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.479), 3-point field-goal percentage (.393), free-throw percentage (.765) and 3-point field goals made per game (8.4) ... Nik Stauskas ranks fifth in the Big Ten in overall scoring (16.7 ppg), and tied for second in 3-point field-goal percentage.
GM. 27 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 94 - PURDUE 79
Michigan State rode outstanding shooting to a 94-79 win at Purdue. It started with a 3-pointer from Adreian Payne on MSU's first possession. With 14:09 left in the first half, the contest was tied at 13. MSU then hit a 3-pointer on three straight possessions to take a 22-13 lead. Purdue cut the lead to four points at 36-32 with 4:57 remaining and appeared to be gaining momentum. The Spartans quickly reasserted themselves with a 9-0 run on three 3-pointers to take a commanding 45-32 lead. MSU led 49-38 at the half, connecting on 13-of-19 3-pointers, as 13 of the Spartans' 14 first-half field goals were 3-pointers. Purdue scored the first basket of the second half, but a 5-0 run gave MSU a 54-40 lead and the Boilermakers were never within single digits after that. Gary Harris led MSU with 25 points, hitting 6-of-9 3-pointers, while Adreian Payne added 23 points, hitting 4-of-8 threes. The Spartans set a school single-game record with 17 3-pointers.
MSU VS. PURDUE NOTES
* Michigan State set a school single-game record with 17 3-pointers, matching the Big Ten record for made 3-pointers in a conference game.
* MSU dished out 26 assists on 30 made field goals, recording an assist on 86.7 percent of its field goals. The previous high was 80.0 percent vs. Columbia (16 assists, 20 field goals).
* MSU's 13 first-half 3-pointers were the most the Spartans had ever made in a single half.
* MSU's 17 3-pointers were the most ever against Purdue and the most ever made in Mackey Arena.
* Gary Harris hit 6-of-9 3-pointers, matching his career high set as a freshman against Purdue, after hitting .222 from behind the arc in his previous four games.
* Keith Appling's nine assists matched the second-best effort of his career.
* Adreian Payne's 23 points came in 22 minutes, as he also tied his career high for 3-pointers in a game, hitting 4-of-8.
* Thirteen of MSU's 14 first-half field goals were from 3-point range.
* After not scoring in the paint in the first half, the Spartans out-scored Purdue, 22-20, in the second half.
* Purdue's .490 field-goal percentage was a season-high for a Spartan opponent.
* MSU's .577 field-goal percentage was a season-high against a Big Ten opponent, and the second-best percentage of the season.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
Michigan State is shooting .387 from 3-point range (222-of-573), ranking second in the Big Ten. Five Spartans (Gary Harris-58, Travis Trice-39, Keith Appling-32, Kenny Kaminski-30, Adreian Payne-26) each average more than one made 3-pointer per game. Individually, Trice leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.443), while Appling ranks ninth (.395). Payne (.441) would rank second if he had played in enough games. The Spartans have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 11 games, after doing it just once last season, ranking second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goals per game (8.2). In conference games, MSU is shooting .399, ranking second, while ranking first with 8.5 makes per contest. The Spartans established a school single-game record with 17 made 3-pointers at Purdue, tying the Big Ten record for a conference game. On the season, MSU's 222 made 3-pointers already rank as the second-best single-season total in school history, trailing only the 1999-2000 squad (253). 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.
Trice Runs The Point
Travis Trice has filled in admirably at the point in place of an injured Keith Appling, as Trice has started the last five games, with Appling missing three of them. In five starts, he's averaging 9.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds, totaling 22 assists and just two turnovers in 150 minutes. The seven assists he totaled against Penn State were a personal high against a Big Ten opponent, while his 13 points at Wisconsin were the most he had ever scored against a Big Ten team.
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 11.1 turnovers, including just 10.6 in conference. The previous low during the Izzo era was 13.0 in 2011-12. The Spartans are 13-3 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent. MSU ranks third in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+1.8), out-scoring opponents by +2.7 points per game (15.4-12.7) in points off turnovers.
Rotating Starting Lineup, Part 1
Michigan State has used 14 different starting lineups this season, as 10 different Spartans have started at least one game. Six different players, and each one of MSU's top four scorers, have missed multiple games due to injury or illness, for a total of 28 games missed. In 18 of 27 games, and 12 of 14 Big Ten contests, MSU has been without its full allotment of players due to injury. In nine games, the Spartans have been without at least two of their regular rotation players. The only game lost due to an injury suffered in practice was Branden Dawson missing the Dec. 28 game vs. New Orleans with a shin bruise, as he sat out just as a precaution. The good news for Michigan State is that the Spartans expect everyone back and healthy for the close of the regular season and the start of postseason play.
Rotating Starting Lineup, Part 2
Michigan State has used 13 different starting lineups in the last 22 games, and a total of 14 on the season. A large part of the rotating door has been the various injuries/illnesses to strike the Spartans. In fact, MSU's five primary starters (Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, and Matt Costello) have all played in just 10 of 27 games. It began with Gary Harris missing three games (Mount St. Mary's, Oakland, North Florida) in a four-game stretch with an ankle injury and also coming off the bench at Texas. Matt Costello started six of the first eight games of the season, but then missed four straight with mononucleosis before returning for conference play. 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. The Spartans have been hit especially hard recently as Payne recently returned with a right foot sprain which forced him to miss seven contests before returning vs. Penn State. Dawson suffered a broken bone in his right hand on Jan. 23 and has not played since, and Appling has a sore right wrist, first suffered against North Carolina, which forced him to miss three of the last five games.
Spartans In Overtime
Michigan State is 3-0 in overtime this season, including 2-0 at home. In fact, MSU has won its last seven overtime games, with its last loss coming to Minnesota in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans last had three overtime games in Big Ten play during the 2011 campaign.
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, Payne ranks second on the team in scoring (16.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). He's posted a double-double in five games this season and 11 of his last 31 dating back to last season. Against Texas, he scored a career-high 33 points. He ranked in the Top 10 in the conference in both scoring and rebounding before falling out of the rankings due to not playing in enough games. He's captured Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice this season (Nov. 18 and Dec. 23). He returned to action against Penn State (Feb. 6), scoring 12 points in 18 minutes, after missing the previous seven games while resting a sprained foot. Prior to the Penn State game, his last action came against Ohio State on Jan. 7, nearly one month earlier. Since his return, he's posted the first back-to-back 20-point games of his career with 24 points vs. Wisconsin and 20 vs. Northwestern, and with his 23 points at Purdue, he has scored 20 or more points in three of his four starts since injury.
Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State is averaging 17.5 assists on the season, pacing the Big Ten and ranking sixth in the nation. With 472 assists on 748 made field goals, the Spartans are recording an assist on 63.1 percent of their baskets. MSU ranks first in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) (NCAA stats through Feb. 20). Keith Appling is second in the conference in assists (4.9 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4). Four Spartans average two or more assists as Denzel Valentine (3.8 apg), Gary Harris (2.8 apg), and Travis Trice (2.5 apg) join Appling.
With its 82-67 win over Penn State, MSU recorded its 14th 20-win season in the last 17 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 22 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 19 of them, 14 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Next Man Up
There's no secret that the Spartans have been forced to deal with several injuries this season, but they understand that their opponents won't ease up, nor are they looking for any sympathy. Just as the Spartan football team employed the "Next Man Up" motto, with reserve linebacker Kyler Elsworth making the game-clinching fourth-down stop in the Rose Bowl, so too has the Spartan basketball team. For instance, in the seven games that Adreian Payne missed, Matt Costello averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds, compared to 2.6 points and 3.0 rebounds before that. Denzel Valentine also elevated his production, averaging 8.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in Payne's absence. Over the last 12 games, Costello is averaging 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds and Valentine is averaging 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. When Branden Dawson went down Jan. 23, more opportunities opened in the Spartan lineup. First, Alvin Ellis III doubled his career high with 12 points against Michigan. Against Iowa on Jan. 28, Russell Byrd stepped up and hit a game-clinching 3-pointer in overtime after not playing in five of the first six Big Ten games, and not hitting a 3-pointer since Dec. 17.
Different Ways To Win
With its 54-40 win at Northwestern, Michigan State proved it could win a low-scoring contest with its defense. But MSU has also shown it can win with a potent offense. In fact, MSU has now won games when scoring in the 50's (1), 60's (2), 70's (8), 80's (5), 90's (5), and 100's (1). Wisconsin and Michigan State are the only teams to accomplish this feat in the Big Ten, and two of just seven schools to do it nationally, joining Connecticut, Florida State, Marquette, Norfolk State and Tennessee Tech.
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 combined. The Spartan senior also paces the Big Ten with three games of at least 20 points, 7 assists and five rebounds.
Kaminski For Three
Redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski is quickly establishing himself as one of the top shooters in the conference. On the season, he is shooting .483 (30-63) from 3-point range. He's been equally prolific in conference play, connecting on 23-of-49 attempts (.469) from behind the arc, ranking third in the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage. In two games (vs. Minnesota and Penn State) Kaminski hit five 3-pointers, connecting on his first five attempts in both contests.
Costello With The Rejection
Since returning from missing four games with mono, Matt Costello is proving his worth in the Spartan lineup, especially on the defensive end. In 14 conference games, he has totaled 20 blocks (1.4 bpg), ranking tied for seventh in the Big Ten. Overall, he ranks ninth in the conference at 1.4 bpg (33 blocks). As his conditioning improves, however, he's also showing some offense, averaging 6.6 points in the last 12 games, including scoring 11 vs. Iowa, 10 vs. Penn State, nine vs. Michigan and Northwestern and eight at Illinois.
Izzo Moves Up Big Ten Coaching List
With MSU's 78-62 win at Illinois, Tom Izzo passed Illinois' Lou Henson for sole possesion of fourth place on the Big Ten career victories list with 215 wins. Izzo currently stands at 220 career Big Ten wins. In MSU's 73-56 win at Indiana, Izzo moved past IU'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. Ward Lambert ranks third with 228 wins, while Gene Keady is second at 265.
Spartans Hit The Mark
Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage at .470. The Spartans have shot 50 percent or better in nine 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 four games this season.
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 578-458 (.558) in league play, including 220-98 (.692) under Tom Izzo, who ranks fourth in league history with 220 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 220-98, 19.5 games better than second-place Wisconsin (200-117).
Six different Spartans have collected a total of 16 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.) and 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.; vs. Northwestern 20 pts., 14 reb.) lead the team with five. Denzel Valentine (vs. New Orleans 10 pts., 13 reb.; vs. Illinois 15 pts., 11 reb.; vs. Penn State 11 pts., 11 reb.) has three, while Gary Harris (vs. McNeese State 20 pts., 10 reb.), Keith Appling (vs. Michigan 10 pts., 10 asts.) and Matt Costello (vs. Iowa 11 points, 12 rebounds) each have one. Dawson and Payne rank tied for third in the Big Ten. No other Big Ten team has more than four different players with a double-double.
Four different Spartans have scored 20 points or more in a game this season. Gary Harris (27 vs. Michigan, 26 vs. Indiana, 25 vs. Purdue, 24 vs. Indiana, 23 vs. Illinois, 21 vs. Oklahoma, 20 vs. McNeese State, 20 vs. Kentucky, 20 vs. Georgetown) leads the way with nine 20-point efforts, tying for the conference lead, while 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) and Adreian Payne (33 vs. Texas, 29 vs. Virginia Tech, 26 vs. Columbia, 24 vs. Wisconsin, 23 vs. Purdue, 20 vs. Oakland, 20 vs. Northwestern) each have seven. Branden Dawson joined the club with 20 points at 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 27 games, MSU is averaging 77.6 points per game, ranking second in the Big Ten.
Spartans At The Charity Stripe
MSU is shooting .698 from the foul line this season. The three Spartans that attempt the most free throws (Appling-122 attempts, .697; Harris-113 attempts, .796; Payne-85 attempts, .788) are shooting a combined .756 (242-320) from the free throw line.
For the Spartans to maintain their reputation as a strong rebounding team, they will need a strong effort from their guards. In fact, three of MSU's four leading rebounders play on the perimeter. Branden Dawson is averaging a team-best 8.7 rebounds from the wing. Denzel Valentine (6.3 rpg) ranks third on the team, and Gary Harris (4.5 rpg) ranks fourth. Either Dawson or Valentine has led the Spartans in rebounding in 20 of 27 games.
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 4.9 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. 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. Against Michigan, he recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 10 assists. Most recently, he came off the bench at Purdue to dish out nine assists. He's led MSU in scoring in nine games and in assists 17 times. The Spartans are a perfect 9-0 when Appling leads the team in scoring.
Valentine And Trice Are Key Contributors
Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine were not in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season when MSU had its full complement of players, but in the eyes of Coach Izzo, they might as well have been. Izzo has regularly referred to the duo as "super subs." Valentine ranks fifth on the team in scoring (8.1 ppg) and third in minutes (29.0 mpg), while Trice ranks sixth in scoring (7.2 ppg) and minutes (22.0 mpg). Valentine (3.8 apg) is second in assist average, while Trice (2.5 apg) is fourth. Due to different injuries and ailments, Valentine ranks third on the team with 22 starts, including 19 straight, while Trice has started eight games, including the last five.
MSU's Super Sophomore
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 and ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per contest, scoring 20 or more points in a team-best nine games, matching Nik Stauskas (Michigan), Terran Petteway (Nebraska), and Rayvonte Rice (Illinois) for most in the conference. During the non-conference, he missed three games (Mount St. Mary's, Oakland and North Florida) while resting an injured ankle.
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 180 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 (165), Duke (156), Kentucky (156), and Connecticut (147).
Payne's Block Party
Senior Adreian Payne ranks second in Spartan history with 130 career blocks, just four 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.
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. He has been a much more active player this season, 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, leading the team in 12 of 18 games in which he's played, and 10.2 points. His tip-in with five seconds remaining sealed the win over No. 1 Kentucky. Dawson is tied for the team lead with five double-doubles. Dawson has missed eight straight games since breaking a bone in his right hand on Jan. 23. He ranked second in the Big Ten in rebounding and field-goal percentage (.604) before dropping out of the rankings due to missing too many games due to injury.
Nation's Best Backcourt
With Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Branden Dawson often 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. With Appling and Harris, MSU features the only team in the nation with two backcourt players on the 23-man midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the 30-man Naismith Trophy List.
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 495 of 644 opponents (.769), posting a 393-102 (.794) mark in those games. Last season, the Spartans out-rebounded 32 of 36 opponents. This season, MSU owns a +4.7 rebounding margin, ranking third in the Big Ten, and has out-rebounded 18 of 27 opponents, posting a 16-2 mark when grabbing more rebounds.
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 guard Keith Appling and sophomore guard Gary Harris are two of 23 players named to the 2013-14 Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List. The list was selected by the board of directors of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Michigan State is one of six schools 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.
MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are currently ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. Six Spartan opponents are also ranked in at least one of the polls, including Iowa (15/15), Wisconsin (16/18), Kentucky (18/16), Texas (19/17), Michigan (20/20), and Ohio State (24/23).
Wooden And Naismith Award Watch Lists
Keith Appling and Adreian Payne have each earned a spot on the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list. The Spartans are one of four schools to have two players on the list. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for 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. Players not on the midseason list are still eligible to appear on the ballot. 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. Gary Harris and Appling have also been named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 List.
Cousy Award Finalist
Senior Keith Appling is one of 24 finalists 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 list of finalists will be narrowed down to a 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.
With 24 points against Wisconsin, Adreian Payne become the 44th player in Michigan State history to reach 1,000 points for his career. Last season, Keith Appling became the 43rd player in MSU history to record 1,000 career points, and just the 29th player to reach the milestone in three seasons. With 1,451 career points, Appling ranks 20th in MSU career scoring, 17 points behind Charlie Bell (1,468 points). With 1,056 points for his career, Payne is three points behind Earvin Johnson (1,059 points) for 41st in MSU history, six behind Johnny Green (1,062 points) and 25 behind Goran Suton (1,081 points).
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 ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman on Nov. 5. Five conference teams are currently ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll, including No. 10 Michigan State, No. 15 Iowa, No. 18 Michigan, No. 20 Ohio State and No. 21 Wisconsin. Last season, seven of the 12 league teams participated in the NCAA Tournament, with a total of nine in postseason play.
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.
THE BOOK ON TOM IZZO
In his 19th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 461-183 (.716), and 220-98 (.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 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 .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 (.700), and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700), and, and ahead of former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.726), Izzo (.716), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 220 conference victories, Izzo ranks fourth 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.