March 26, 2013
|No. 3 Michigan State (27-8, 13-5) vs. No. 2 Duke (29-5, 14-4)
||Friday, March 29, 2013
||9:45 p.m. ET
||Indianapolis, Ind. | Lucas Oil Stadium
||CBS (Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Tracy Wolfson)
||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
|| Available at NCAA.com/MBBtickets
| Game Notes
||Michigan State | Duke
|| Michigan State | Duke
| Internet Coverage
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||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State makes its fifth trip to the Sweet 16 in the last six seasons and its 11th in the last 16 seasons under Tom Izzo. The Spartans won their first two tournament games using the staples of Izzo's great teams: rebounding and defense. MSU and Duke are meeting for the fourth time in NCAA Tournament history.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Spartans In The Sweet 16
This is MSU's 13th trip to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, including the 11th under Tom Izzo. Michigan State is 7-5 in Sweet 16 games since 1985, having won seven of its last nine. All-time, MSU is 11-5 in the regional semifinals. Tom Izzo is 7-3 in the Sweet 16.
2. Ten Sweet 16s In 15 Years
Since Michigan State's first trip to the NCAA Tournament under Tom Izzo in 1998, the Spartans have advanced to the Sweet 16 11 times in the last 16 years. During that same stretch, only Duke has more Sweet 16 appearances (13), while Kansas is right behind MSU with 10 trips. MSU's five trips to the Sweet 16 in the last six years are tied with Kansas for most in the nation.
3. Well-Tested Spartans
Thirteen of Michigan State's last 17 games have been against NCAA Tournament teams, with the Spartans posting an 8-5 mark in those 13 games. MSU is 6-6 this season against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the contest. The Spartans have played 16 of their 35 games against teams that have been ranked at some point this season, posting an 8-8 mark. In fact, MSU has played 12 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season, going 5-7.
4. Spartan Staples On Display
Michigan State has built its program on rebounding and defense under Tom Izzo. Those two strengths were on display in MSU's first two NCAA Tournament games. The Spartans out-rebounded their two opponents by a +23.0 margin, while averaging 17.0 offensive rebounds per contest. In fact, MSU has grabbed more than half of its missed shots, collecting 34 offensive rebounds, compared to 33 defensive rebounds for its opponents. Defensively, MSU held opponents to .322 shooting from the field, including .250 from 3-point range. The Spartans held Memphis to its lowest point total of the season (48) and Valpo to its fourth-lowest point total of the season (54).
5. Spartan NCAA History In Indianapolis
Michigan State is 7-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games in Indianapolis, including 4-0 in the regionals and 2-1 in Lucas Oil Stadium. MSU's only loss in Indianapolis was a 52-50 loss to Butler in the 2010 Final Four. In 2009, the Spartans advanced to the Final Four through Lucas Oil Stadium, beating No. 3 seed Kansas (67-62) in the Sweet 16 and No. 1 seed Louisville (64-52) in the Elite Eight. In its 2000 National Championship season, MSU topped No. 8 seed Wisconsin (53-41) and No. 5 seed Florida (89-76) at the Indianapolis-hosted Final Four. The 1979 National Championship team played in Indianapolis for the regional semifinals and finals, knocking off No. 3 seed LSU (87-71) and No. 1 seed Notre Dame (80-68), respectively. In their first NCAA game in Indianapolis, the Spartans beat Providence (77-63) in the 1978 first round.
MSU VS. DUKE NOTES
Second-seeded Duke defeated No. 15 seed Albany in the second round, 73-61, and seventh-seeded Creighton in the third round, 66-50, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in the last 16 years, which is the most in the nation during that span. The Blue Devils had a 14-4 record in ACC play to finish second in the regular-season standings.
Duke vs. The Field of 68
The Blue Devils played 10 teams that earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, posting an 11-2 record. In non-conference play, Duke defeated Florida Gulf Coast, Minnesota, VCU, Louisville, Ohio State, Temple and Davidson. In conference games, Duke swept the season series over North Carolina and split with North Carolina State and Miami.
The Spartans and Blue Devils played three common opponents this season. MSU lost at Miami, while the Blue Devils split the season series against the Hurricanes. Duke also beat Minnesota and Ohio State during non-conference play; the Spartans split the season series against the Gophers and went 1-2 against the Buckeyes.
Duke leads the all-time series against Michigan State, 7-2. The two schools have met three times before in the NCAA Tournament (1994, 1999, 2005). In the 1994 second round in St. Petersburg, Fla., the Blue Devils defeated the Spartans en route to a trip to the National Championship game. The two teams met again in St. Petersburg in the 1999 Final Four, with the Blue Devils coming out on top, 68-62. In the 2005 Austin Regional semifinal, the fifth-seeded Spartans took down top-seeded Duke, 78-68, as Paul Davis led the Spartans with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Duke defeated MSU in the last meeting, 74-69, on Nov. 15, 2011, in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Mike Krzyzewski (Army, '69) is the winningest coach in the history of Division I basketball with a 956-296 (.764) overall record in 38 seasons, including 883-237 (.788) in 33 seasons at Duke. Krzyzewski is one of only three coaches in NCAA history to win at least four National Championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010). His 11 Final Four appearances are tied for second most all-time. He has won 13 ACC Tournament Championships and 12 regular-season ACC titles. As head coach of USA Basketball, Krzyzewski led the United States to back-to-back gold medals in the Olympics (2008 Beijing, 2012 London).
Blue Devil Notes
With the third-round victory over Creighton, Duke became just the fourth program in NCAA history to record 2,000 wins ... Senior forward Mason Plumlee, a first-team All-ACC selection, ranks among the NCAA leaders in field-goal percentage (sixth, .598), double-doubles (ninth, 17) and rebounds (15th, 10.0 rpg) ... In the first two games of the NCAA Tournament, senior Seth Curry leads Duke in scoring with 21.5 ppg ... The Blue Devils are 20-1 this season when senior Ryan Kelly is in the lineup ... The Blue Devils rank among the national leaders in 3-point field-goal percentage (fifth, .403), scoring offense (ninth, 77.8 ppg), turnovers (10th, 10.7 pg), turnover margin (15th, +3.5) and field-goal percentage (15th, .477).
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
MSU's NCAA Streak
Michigan State is making its 16th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and third longest in the nation. Only Kansas (24) and Duke (18) have longer current streaks. It is also the second-longest streak in Big Ten history. Indiana appeared in 18 consecutive tournaments between 1986 and 2003.
MSU In The NCAA Tournament
Michigan State is making its 27th appearance in the NCAA Tournament with an all-time record of 56-25. MSU has made eight trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
At His Best When It Counts
Tom Izzo ranks fifth among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .736 (39-14). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .771 (81-24), followed by Florida's Billy Donovan (.750, 30-10), North Carolina's Roy Williams (.747, 62-21), and SMU's Larry Brown (.737, 14-5). Of those five, Izzo and Krzyzewski are the only coaches to appear in the last 16 NCAA Tournaments. In NCAA Tournament wins, Izzo (39) ranks fifth among active coaches, trailing just Krzyzewski (81), Williams (62), Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (50) and Louisville's Rick Pitino (44).
Izzo's NCAA Streak
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is making his 16th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It's the second-longest active streak in the nation, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski, who is making his 18th straight trip this season. By making the tournament this season, Izzo passes former Indiana coach Bob Knight's 15-straight appearances (1986-2000) as the longest streak in Big Ten history.
Spartan Opponents In NCAA Tournament
Nine of Michigan State's regular-season opponents made the field of 68 for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including Big Ten foes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, and non-conference opponents Boise State, Kansas, and Miami (Fla.). Five of those opponents are still alive in the Sweet 16. The Spartans are a combined 8-7 against the nine teams. What's more impressive is that six of those nine opponents earned a Top 5 seed, as MSU played a combined 11 games against the Top 5 seeds, posting a 5-6 record.
Big Ten Conference In The NCAA Tournament
Seven of 12 Big Ten schools earned a bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament (No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 7 Illinois, and No. 11 Minnesota). Four of the seven schools are still playing, as the Big Ten leads all conferences in Sweet 16 teams. The Big Ten also leads all conferences with 58.3 (7-of-12) percent of its teams making the tournament, followed by the Mountain West (.556, 5-of-9) and Big East (.533, 8-of-15).
Quick Turnaround Success
Michigan State's deep NCAA Tournament runs can be attributed to its success with quick turnarounds. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are a remarkable 18-3 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend. What's even more impressive is that all three losses have all come to No. 1 seeds.
Michigan State ranks seventh among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU's .691 winning percentage (56-25) trails only Duke (.754, 98-32), UCLA (.725, 95-36), Florida (.723, 34-13), North Carolina (.722, 109-42), Kentucky (.707, 111-46), and Kansas (.704, 95-40). MSU's 56 tournament wins rank ninth in NCAA history and second among Big Ten schools, behind Indiana (64).
Two Titles Not Too Shabby
Michigan State is one of just 14 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Florida, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and San Francisco join MSU with two titles. Only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Duke (4), Connecticut (3) and Kansas (3) have won more titles.
MSU NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
* MSU is making its fifth trip to the Sweet 16 in the last six years, and its 11th trip in 16 NCAA Tournament appearances under Tom Izzo.
* MSU owns a +23.0 rebounding margin through two games.
* MSU is holding opponents to .322 shooting, including .250 from 3-point range.
* Derrick Nix is leading Michigan State in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (11.5).
* The Spartans are averaging 17.0 offensive rebounds and 18.0 second-chance points.
* MSU has grabbed 34 offensive rebounds compared to 33 defensive rebounds for its opponents.
* MSU has scored 70 of its 135 points in the paint.
THIRD ROUND NOTES MSU 70-MEMPHIS 48
* Gary Harris led MSU with a career-high 23 points, marking the most scored in an NCAA Tournament game by a Spartan freshman since Shawn Respert scored 27 against Cincinnati in the 1992 second round.
* Adreian Payne recorded his first career NCAA Tournament double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
* Adreian Payne blocked a career-high five shots, establishing an MSU NCAA Tournament record.
* Derrick Nix tied his career high with four steals.
* MSU held Memphis to a season-low 48 points, the fewest by a Spartan opponent in the NCAA Tournament since Florida scored 46 in 2003.
* Memphis also shot a season-low 29.7 percent from the field.
* MSU out-scored Memphis in the second half, 38-19.
* The Spartans improved to 18-3 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend under Tom Izzo, including 11-1 in the round of 32.
* MSU improved to 4-0 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in the NCAA Tournament.
SECOND ROUND NOTES MSU 65-VALPARAISO 54
* MSU improved to 21-6 in the first game of the NCAA Tournament, including 17-6 in the round of 64, 12-4 under Tom Izzo.
* Derrick Nix recorded his first-career NCAA Tournament double-double with 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. It was the fifth double-double of his career and the fourth of the season.
* Nix joins Johnny Green as the only two Spartans to ever score 20 points and grab 15 rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game.
* Michigan State out-rebounded Valparaiso by an impressive +26 margin (49-23), marking MSU's largest margin in an NCAA Tournament game.
* With the game tied at 8 at the 12:38 mark of the first half, MSU went on a 24-4 run over 10:02, holding Valparaiso for nearly six minutes without a point.
* MSU improved to 2-0 in NCAA Tournament history against Valparaiso, having previously defeated the Crusaders in the first round of the 2000 tournament.
* Keith Appling and Derrick Nix, teammates from nearby Detroit Pershing High School, totaled 38 points and 21 rebounds.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
All-Big Ten Spartans
Four Spartans were honored when the All-Big Ten Teams were announced on March 11. Gary Harris became the first Spartan to ever win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors since the award's inception in 1986. Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling all earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches, while the media picked Harris and Payne for the second team and Appling for the third team. Derrick Nix earned honorable mention accolades from the coaches, and Payne was the MSU recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Spartans From The Hoosier State
Three players on the MSU roster are from Indiana. Red-shirt sophomore Russell Byrd earned 2010 second-team all-state honors becoming the first ever Indiana All-Star from Blackhawk Christian High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. Sophomore Branden Dawson was an all-state selection and 2011 McDonald's All-American from Gary's Lew Wallace High School. Freshman Gary Harris was the 2012 Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Basketball winner and the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year. A 2012 McDonald's All-American, Harris averaged 25.4 points in leading Hamilton Southeastern High School to the Class 4A sectional final.
As the lone senior on the Spartan squad, Derrick Nix is a prime example of what maturation and perseverance can do in a student-athlete's career. He currently averages 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds, after averaging just 2.3 points and 2.1 boards as a freshman. Through his first three years, he had one career double-double, one career double-figure rebounding game and 16 career double-figure scoring games. This year alone he has four double-doubles, six double-figure rebounding games, and 15 double-figure scoring games. He's also shown dramatic improvement at the foul line, shooting .699 this season, after having shot just .271 as a freshman. Over the course of his career, MSU is 103-40, and Nix has been a part of Spartan Big Ten Championship teams in 2010 and 2012, and three NCAA Tournament squads, including starting as a freshman at the 2010 Final Four.
Harris Paces Big Ten Freshmen
Gary Harris is the first player in Michigan State history to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, since it was first awarded in 1986. He was one of eight finalists, and the only Big Ten finalist, for the 2013 Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. In Big Ten games, he led conference freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per contest. Harris led Big Ten freshmen in 3-point percentage in conference games at .472 (42-of-89), ranking second among all players, and 3-point field goals made (2.3), which ranked tied for fifth among all players. Defensively, he led Big Ten freshmen with 1.6 steals per game, ranking fourth among all players. He also leads conference freshmen in overall scoring at 13.1 ppg. He was a three-time recipient of Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors (Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Feb. 18).
Payne's Improved Play
Over the last 18 games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.3 points, shooting 78-of-148 (.527) from the field, including 14-of-35 (.400) from 3-point range. In the last 10 games, he's averaging 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds, including grabbing 14 boards at Nebraska and a career-high 15 at Ohio State, while recording five double-doubles. A look at the Big Ten stats shows that Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten, ranking third in the conference in rebounding (7.5 rpg), sixth in field-goal percentage (.556), tied for sixth in blocks (1.3 bpg) and third in free-throw percentage (.837). He also ranks third on the Spartans in scoring at 10.4 points per contest. Early in the season, he was limited by foul trouble, averaging just 20.1 minutes in the first 18 games, playing 30 or more minutes just once. However, he is averaging 30.9 minutes over the last 17 games, recording 12 of the 13 30-minute games of his career.
Harris Ranks Among Best MSU Freshmen Ever
Gary Harris is on his way to turning in one of the best freshman campaigns in Michigan State history. His 13.1 ppg overall scoring average ranks third in school history behind just Earvin Johnson (17.0) and Shawn Respert (15.8). With 65 made three-pointers he ranks second, trailing Chris Hill (66) by just one, while ranking first with 155 3-point attempts. He also ranks among the top five in 3-point field-goal percentage (fifth, .419), steals (second, 44), points (third, 433), field goals (third, 148) and field-goal attempts (fourth, 318).
Michigan State presents a balanced scoring attack with all five Spartan starters averaging 9.1 points or better, including four in double-figures. Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne each led the Spartans in scoring during Big Ten play, and all five have scored 20 points in at least one game this season, including four of them doing it in Big Ten games.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 16 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 175 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 (158), Kentucky (150), Duke (149) and Connecticut (142).
Appling Joins 1,000-Point Club
With his 16 points at Nebraska, Keith Appling became the 43rd player in Michigan State history to record 1,000 career points, and just the 29th player to reach the milestone in three seasons. With 1,102 career points, he is eight points away from passing Al Ferrari (1,109 points) for 36th place in MSU career scoring and 45 points away from passing Pete Gent (1,146 points).
Improved 3-Point Shooting
Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last 22 games, the Spartans are shooting .357 (115-of-322). In conference games, the Spartans shot .366 (96-of-262), ranking third in the Big Ten. The percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Adreian Payne (.417; 15-of-36) and Gary Harris (.463; 50-of-108) in the last 22 games.
Limiting Turnovers In Conference Play
One area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 13.7 per game, including five games with 19 or more. In Big Ten play, however, MSU did a much better job, averaging 11.9 per conference game, including six games with 10 or fewer. On the season, MSU is 14-1 when committing the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent.
Assists From The Post
One of the reasons Michigan State has been shooting better from the perimeter in recent games has been the inside-outside combination, and many well placed passes from the post hitting the Spartan shooters at the right time. Among the best at it is senior center Derrick Nix. In conference games, he ranked third on the team with 36 assists. He's been especially effective lately, totaling 42 assists in the last 18 games, including collecting a career-best six assists at Indiana and on Senior Day against Northwestern.
MSU In March
Michigan State is 73-29 (.716) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 80-36 (.690) in March. Over the last four-plus years (2009-present), MSU is 27-9 (.750) in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
Winning the Close Ones
Michigan State is 8-5 in games decided by five points or less, including 3-3 in conference games. MSU has avoided the blowout loss this season, as seven of the eight losses have been by eight points or less, and the other loss (at Minnesota) was a two-point game with three minutes left. In fact, in seven of MSU's losses, MSU has been within a basket in the final three minutes.
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 476 of 616 opponents (.773), posting a 377-99 (.792) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 31 of 35 opponents this season, having been out-rebounded just three times (Minnesota (twice), Northwestern). They lead the Big Ten and rank eighth in the nation with a +7.7 rebounding margin. In conference games, the Spartans ranked second at +4.3.
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. On the season, he ranks fifth on the team in scoring (9.1 ppg), third in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and fourth in minutes played (27.0 mpg).
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded a team-best 56 steals (1.6 spg), ranking fifth in the Big Ten, and 32 blocks (0.9 bpg), ranking second on the team and 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 12th in the Big Ten with 45 steals (1.3 spg), while Adreian Payne leads the team and ranks tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 44 blocks (1.3 bpg).
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne is third in Michigan State history with 111 career blocks. Draymond Green ranks second with 117. Payne blocked a career-best five shots in the third round of the NCAA Tournament against Memphis.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +9.2 points (33.8-24.6), out-scoring 29 of its 35 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), Ohio State (34-14), Michigan (36-22) and Wisconsin (32-12). On the season, the Spartans have scored 49.6 percent of their points in the paint (1184 of 2387).
There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (13.3 ppg - 13th Big Ten) and assists (3.4 apg - 8th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in 15 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. 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.
Michigan State led the Big Ten in steals in conference games (7.9 spg) for just the second time since the Big Ten first started crowning a steals champion in 1986 (conference games only), having also led the conference in 1998 (8.3 spg). The Spartans also pace the conference in all games at 8.1 spg. Against Wisconsin, the Spartans recorded a season-high 16 steals, matching the second-highest total ever by MSU in a Big Ten game.
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 209 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 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 567-455 (.555) in league play, including 209-95 (.688) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 209 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 209-95, 17 games better than second-place Wisconsin (192-112).
With its victory at Purdue, Michigan State recorded its 13th 20-win season in the last 16 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 21 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 18 of them, 13 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Coming From Behind
Michigan State leads the Big Ten with eight wins when trailing at the half. In fact, the Spartans have a .667 (8-4) winning percentage when behind at halftime.
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris ranks second on the Spartans and leads Big Ten freshmen in scoring at 13.1 points per contest. If you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he would be averaging a team-best 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 three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Feb. 18. He averaged a team-best 13.7 ppg in Big Ten play, leading conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (65) and attempted (155), and made 47.2 percent (42-of-89) of his shots from behind the arc in conference action.
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 20.4 ppg and 14.0 rpg. Both of them are also shooting better than 51 percent from the field.
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Memphis) leads the way with eight, while Derrick Nix (Tuskegee, Texas, Nebraska, Valparaiso) has four, Branden Dawson (Connecticut, Purdue, Wisconsin) has three, and 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 .390 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including .297 from 3-point range, ranking third. MSU also ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per contest.
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 68 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 25 times. On the season, MSU is shooting .461 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten. In conference games, the Spartans ranked third, shooting .454.
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 six double-figure rebounding games this season, and has recorded four double-doubles. They are 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 7.5 minutes or more per game, and 10 are averaging 6.1 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.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.1 ppg) and minutes (29.5 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.5 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.2 rpg) and sixth in minutes (20.9 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 6.1 minutes in the 27 games in which he's played, although he's averaging 1.8 points and 8.2 minutes in his last 12 games.
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.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 406-307, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +2.8 points per game (11.6-8.8). The Spartans are averaging 11.5 offensive boards per game, with an offensive rebound percentage of .358.
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 (439 wins) now trails just Bob Knight (662; 1971-2000) and Gene Keady (512; 1980-2005).
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").
MSU VS. LOUISVILLE NOTES
Top-seeded Louisville, winners of 12 straight, defeated No. 16 seed North Carolina A&T in the second round, 79-48, and eighth-seeded Colorado State in the third round, 82-56, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the 19th time in program history and the fifth time under Coach Rick Pitino. The Cardinals claimed a share of the Big East regular-season title with a 14-4 conference record before winning three straight in New York City at Madison Square Garden to win their second consecutive Big East Tournament Championship and third overall.
Louisville vs. The Field of 68
The Cardinals played 11 teams that earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, posting an 11-5 record. In non-conference play, Louisville defeated Missouri, Memphis and Western Kentucky, and lost to Duke. In Big East conference games, Louisville defeated Cincinnati, Marquette and Pittsburgh, split with Syracuse and Notre Dame, and fell to Villanova and Georgetown. The Cardinals defeated three NCAA teams in the Big East Tournament (Villanova, Notre Dame, Syracuse).
The Spartans and Cardinals have both played Memphis this season. MSU defeated the Tigers in the NCAA Third Round, 70-48, while U of L won at Memphis on Dec. 15, 87-78.
Louisville leads the all-time series against Michigan State, 5-3. The two schools have met three times before in the NCAA Tournament (1959, 2009, 2012). In the 1959 Mideast Regional final in Evanston, Ill., Louisville won, 88-81, despite the Spartans getting 29 points and 23 rebounds from Johnny Green. In the 2009 Midwest Regional final in Indianapolis, the second-seeded Spartans defeated the top-seeded Cardinals, 64-52, as Tom Izzo advanced to his fifth Final Four. Goran Suton paced the Spartans with 19 points and 10 rebounds, scoring 17 in the first half. In the 2012 West Regional semifinal in Phoenix, the fourth-seeded Cardinals took down the top-seeded Spartans, 57-44, holding Michigan State to 29 percent shooting from the field. Izzo is 2-2 against Louisville in his career.
Rick Pitino (UMass, `74) is 660-239 (.734) in his 28th year as a college head coach, including 306-111 (.734) in 12 seasons at Louisville. Pitino became the first coach in NCAA history to guide three different schools to the NCAA Final Four when he took the Cardinals in 2005. Pitino has coached six Final Four teams (Providence 1987; Kentucky 1993, 1996 and 1997; Louisville 2005 and 2012), which ranks tied for third among active coaches, including winning the 1996 NCAA Championship at Kentucky and a runner-up finish in 1997. Pitino is 44-16 in 18 NCAA Tournament appearances.
This is Louisville's 39th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance (66-40 all-time record) ... U of L has won two National Championships (1980, 1986) and been to nine Final Fours, which is seventh most in NCAA history ... U of L ranks 14th in the nation in scoring defense (57.6 ppg) ... The Cardinals are second in the NCAA in steals (11.0 spg) and turnover margin (+6.3) ... Louisville has already established school records this season for steals (396) and forced turnovers (683) ... Senior guard Peyton Siva was named the Big East Tournament MVP for the second straight year after averaging 11.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.7 steals in three games; Siva and Patrick Ewing are the only two players to win the award twice ... Junior guard Russ Smith, a first-team All-Big East selection, leads the team in scoring with 18.4 ppg ... Junior center Gorgui Dieng, who was also named to the All-Big East first team, was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and leads the team with 70 blocks (2.4 bpg).
MSU VS. OREGON NOTES
Twelfth-seeded Oregon defeated No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, 68-55, and fourth-seeded Saint Louis, 74-57, to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007 and for the fourth time in school history. The Ducks tied for second in the Pac-12 regular-season standings with a 12-6 record. Oregon earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after defeating UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Oregon vs. The Field of 68
The Ducks played six teams that earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, posting a 4-5 record. In non-conference play, Oregon defeated UNLV but lost to Cincinnati. In Pac-12 Conference play, the Ducks topped Arizona and UCLA but were swept by California and Colorado. Oregon defeated UCLA for the second time of the season with a victory over the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament title game.
The Spartans and Ducks have two common opponents this season. MSU defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the Breslin Center on Dec. 5, 76-44, while the Ducks beat UAPB, 80-59, on Dec. 1 in Eugene. Oregon topped Nebraska on Dec. 15 in Eugene, 60-38, and the Spartans swept the season series over the Huskers.
Oregon holds a 2-1 series lead over Michigan State. The Spartans won the last meeting between the two schools in 1988, 76-71, but the Ducks won the first two matchups in 1961 and 1969.
Dana Altman (Eastern New Mexico, `80) is 483-279 (.634) in his 23rd year as a college head coach, including 73-36 (.670) in three seasons at Oregon. Altman was chosen as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and has been named coach of the year in four different conferences: the Pac-12 (Oregon, 2013), Missouri Valley (Creighton, 2001, 2002), Big Eight (Kansas State, 1993) and Southern (Marshall, 1990). Before arriving in Oregon, Altman spent 16 seasons at Creighton, where he became the school's all-time winningest coach with a record of 327-176 (.650). He led the Blue Jays to seven NCAA Tournaments. This marks Altman's first Sweet 16 berth in nine NCAA Tournament trips.
This is Oregon's 11th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance (14-9 all-time record), and its first since 2008 ... Oregon has won one national championship (1939), and has advanced to the Elite Eight twice (2002, 2007) since the field expanded to 65 teams in 1985 ... Junior guard Johnathan Loyd scored a season-high 19 points in the Pac-12 Championship game and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player ... Senior forward E.J. Singler, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.6 ppg. ... Senior forward Arsalan Kazemi leads the team in rebounding (9.9 rpg) and was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team ... Guard Damyean Dotson was named to Pac-12 All-Freshman Team ... Oregon ranks among the NCAA leaders in rebounding margin (20th, +6.4) and steals (27th, 8.5 spg).
THE BOOK ON TOM IZZO
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 439-177 (.713), and 209-95 (.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 (.706), 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 (.720), Izzo (.713), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 209 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.