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Spartans Travel To Brooklyn For CVC Classic

The Spartans play Virginia Tech in the semifinals of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic Friday night.

Nov. 21, 2013


#1/1 Michigan State (4-0) vs. Virginia Tech (3-1)
 Date Friday, November 22, 2013
 Time 9:30 p.m. ET
 Location Brooklyn, N.Y. | Barclays Center
 Television TruTV (Brian Anderson, Greg Anthony, Steve Smith, Craig Sager)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
 Game Notes Michigan State | Virginia Tech
 Statistics  Michigan State | Virginia Tech
 Internet Coverage   Gametracker
 Social Media @MSU_Basketball   |  Facebook

Michigan State takes its No. 1 ranking on the road as it travels to Brooklyn for the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. The Spartans will play Virginia Tech in the second semifinal game, with the winner advancing to play the Oklahoma-Seton Hall winner in Saturday's championship game.

1. MSU At No. 1

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 is just the second time under Coach Izzo, and just the third time in school history that MSU has held the top spot in the AP Top 25. This is the fifth week in school history that MSU will be ranked No. 1. The Spartans were No. 1 for two weeks during the National Championship season of 1978-79, holding the top spot on Jan. 3 and Jan. 9. In 2000-01, MSU reached the top spot on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 (Dates according to NCAA Record Book). The Spartans have an all-time record of 6-3 at No. 1, including 1-0 this season.

2. Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State is averaging 21.5 assists on the season. With 86 assists on 121 made field goals, the Spartans are recording an assist on 71.1 percent of their baskets. MSU paces the Big Ten Conference in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0). Keith Appling is third in the conference in assists (6.3 apg), while both Travis Trice (3.3) and Appling (3.1) boast an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 3-to-1.

3. MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 104-30 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 74-3 mark at home. The last team to beat MSU at home in November was a David Robinson-led Navy squad that bested the Spartans, 91-90, in overtime on Nov. 29, 1986. Tom Izzo is 52-0 all-time at home in November.

4. 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 6.3 assists per game and owns a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In a win over No. 1 Kentucky, Appling dished out eight assists. 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."

5. Money At The Charity Stripe
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (.769). The three Spartans that attempt the most free throws (Payne-17 attempts, .824; Appling-16 attempts, .813, Harris-13 attempts, .923) are each shooting better than 80 percent from the foul line.

Coach Johnson
James Johnson (Ferrum, '93) is 16-20 in his second season at Virginia Tech. Previously, he spent five seasons as an assistant for the Hokies. His coaching career also includes stints as an assistant at George Mason, including during their 2006 Final Four run, Penn State, Old Dominion , Hargrave Military Academy, Longwood College and Ferrum.

Series History
This is the first ever meeting betwen Michigan State and Virginia Tech.

About Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech features five players averaging double-figures in scoring, led by Jarell Eddie at 16.5 ppg ... C.J. Barksdale missed the first three games due to a suspension, but returned in the Hokies' last game, scoring 16 points against VMI ... Virginia Tech is shooting .448 from 3-point range, led by Jarell Eddie (10-20) and Ben Emelogu (11-21) ... Although only a freshman, Emelogu was named team captain by Coach Johnson ... Virginia Tech averages 8.0 blocks per game.

The Coaches vs. Cancer program ( is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society ( and the National Association of Basketball Coaches ( that empowers basketball coaches, their teams, and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer. The program leverages the personal experiences, community leadership, and professional excellence of basketball coaches nationwide to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living through year-round awareness efforts, fundraising activities, and advocacy programs. Since 1993, the initiative has raised more than $87 million dollars to fund groundbreaking research, provide up-to-date cancer information, advocate for public health policies and deliver services to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Briefly On The Seton Hall Pirates
Seton Hall is 3-1 on the season, with its only loss coming in double overtime at Mercer ... The Pirates are led by Kevin Willard, who is 52-50 in his fourth season at Seton Hall ... MSU leads the all-time series, 3-0, although the two teams have not met since December 2001 ... Sophomore Sterling Gibbs leads the Pirates in scoring (17.0 ppg).

Briefly On The Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma is 3-0 on the season, and has not played since Nov. 13 ... Coach Lon Kruger is 517-332 in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach, including 38-28 in his third season at Oklahoma ... Kruger is 3-7 all-time against MSU, including 3-6 against Tom Izzo ... MSU leads the all-time series, 4-3, with the last meeting coming in December 2003 ... Sophomore guard Buddy Hield leads OU in scoring at 18.3 ppg.

The contest was tight for most of the first half, with Michigan State holding a slim lead for a majority of the stanza. The Spartans pushed the lead out to six points three times, and even once to seven, but could never create much separation. MSU took a 36-32 lead into the half, thanks in large part to Keith Appling's 16 points. The first part of the second half was the same story, and Portand even tied the game at 46 with 12:43 remaining. Travis Trice responded with a personal 5-0 run, first hitting a 3-pointer from the corner, and following with a steal and fast-break layup to push MSU out to a 51-46 advantage. Less than three minutes later, the Spartans held their first double-figure lead of the game. MSU would pull away from there, holding a double-figure lead for the final 7:54 of the contest. Appling scored just nine points in the second half, but added six assists, to finish with 25 points and seven assists for the game.

* Keith Appling matched his career high with 25 points.
* Appling was a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range and 6-of-6 from the foul line.
* The Spartans shot a season-high .846 from the foul line.
* Michigan State made a season-high 13 3-point field goals, matching the third-best single-game effort in Spartan history. The 30 attempts equalled the fourth-highest total in school history.
* For the third time in four games, Branden Dawson led MSU in rebounding with 10 boards.
* MSU grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, resulting in a 24-9 edge in second-chance points.
* Adreian Payne matched his career high with three made 3-pointers.

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." With a pair of healthy wings in Gary Harris and Branden Dawson, a fast point guard in Keith Appling, big men such as Adreian Payne and Gavin Schilling that excel in transition, and a deep, talented bench, Michigan State will look to push the pace at every opportunity. Through four games, MSU is averaging 80.0 points per game, including 21.0 points in transition. This includes a dominating 21-2 edge in fast break points against Kentucky.

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, and one of 15 players on the watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Payne is leading the team in scoring at 17.5 ppg. He's posted a double-double in two games this season and eight of the last 15 dating back to last season.

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 four opponents are shooting .380 from the floor, including just .294 from 3-point range.

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 177 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 (159), Kentucky (152), Duke (152) and Connecticut (142).

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. Early indications in 2013-14 are that Dawson is a much more active player, exhibiting the rare combination of strength and athleticism that rank him among the Big Ten's elite. He is currently averaging a team-best 9.5 rebounds, leading the team in three of four games, and 9.0 points. His tip-in with five seconds remaining sealed the win over No. 1 Kentucky.

Returning Productivity
Michigan State 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.

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's Jeff Goodman on Nov. 5. Not only were Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State all ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll preseason Top 10, Wisconsin and Indiana were also ranked, while Iowa wass just outside the Top 25. Last season, seven of the 12 league teams participated in the NCAA Tournament, with a total of nine in postseason play.

An Efficient Harris
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 enters 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 ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per contest.

Outside Shooting
Through four games, Michigan State is shooting .373 from 3-point range (28-of-75). Gary Harris and Keith Appling each have hit eight 3-pointers, while Travis Trice (5), Adreian Payne (4) and Denzel Valentine (3) have also each made three or more. 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. In the most recent game, the Spartans connected on 13-of-30 attempts, matching the third-most made 3-pointers in school history.

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 479 of 621 opponents (.771), posting a 379-100 (.791) mark in those games. Last season, the Spartans out-rebounded 32 of 36 opponents. This season, MSU owns a +6.3 rebounding margin, but has been out-rebounded in two of four contests.

Robertson Trophy Watch List
Senior forward Adreian Payne and sophomore guard Gary Harris are two of 15 players named to the 2013-14 Oscar Robertson Trophy Preseason Watch List. The preseason watch list was selected by the board of directors of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Michigan State is the only school 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. The Big Ten leads all conference with four candidates as Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Michigan's Mitch McGary are also on the list.

Wooden Award Watch List
Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne have each earned a spot on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list. The Spartans are one of four schools to have at least three players on the list. The Big Ten leads all conferences with 10 players on the list of 50. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and 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. 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.

Cousy Award Watch List
Senior Keith Appling is one of 47 players on the watch list of candidates 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 watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then 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.

Super Subs
Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine are not normally in the starting lineup, but in the eyes of Coach Izzo, they might as well be. Izzo has regularly referred to the duo as "super subs." Valentine ranks fifth on the team in both scoring (7.3 ppg) and minutes (22.3 mpg), while Trice ranks sixth in scoring (6.0 ppg) and minutes (20.0 mpg). Trice (3.3 apg) is second in assists, while Valentine (3.0 apg) is tied for third. Both players also shoot better than 35 percent from 3-point range.

Strength Of Schedule
Michigan State's 2013-14 schedule promises to provide another stiff test for the Spartans. MSU will play six regular-season games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll preseason Top 11, with non-conference games against No. 1 Kentucky and No. 11 North Carolina and two conference games against both No. 9 Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State. Wisconsin (No. 21) and Indiana (No. 24) are also ranked in the Top 25, while Big Ten foes Iowa and Illinois and non-conference opponent Georgetown also received votes in the poll. In total, the Spartans will face 15 teams that competed in postseason play, playing 19 of 31 regular-season games against postseason participants.

MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. In the various preseason rankings in magazines and web sites, the Spartans were ranked as high as No. 1 (Lindy's Sports College Basketball and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook), while also being ranked No. 2 by USA Today Sports, the Sporting News, and Dick Vitale, No. 3 by and, and No. 4 by Athlon Sports College Basketball.

Conference Favorites
Michigan State was announced as a unanimous preseason favorite for the conference championship at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago on Oct. 31. Michigan was picked to finish second and Ohio State was third. Spartan sophomore Gary Harris was tabbed the preseason player of the year, and senior Adreian Payne joined Harris on the preseason All-Big Ten squad.

1,000 Point Scorers
Last season, 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 1,179 career points, he ranks 33rd in MSU career scoring, four points behind Shannon Brown (1,183 points), six points behind Mike Peplowski (1,185 points) and 16 behind Alan Anderson and Kelvin Torbert (1,195 points). With 793 points, Adreian Payne is on pace to become the next Spartan to reach 1,000 career points.

Payne's Block Party
Senior Adreian Payne is tied with Draymond Green for second in Michigan State history with 117 career blocks. Drew Naymick is the MSU career leader with 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.

Individual Accolades
In addition to the predicted team success, several Spartans have been the recipient of preseason honors. Senior Adreian Payne was named first-team All-American by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, while earning third-team honors from Athlon Sports and Sophomore Gary Harris was selected as a first-team All-American by Jeff Goodman of, while being tabbed as a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports, Athlon Sports and Harris and Payne are both consensus selections for preseason All-Big Ten honors, but senior Keith Appling and junior Branden Dawson have also earned spots on various all-conference teams.

The Fifth Starter
Most of Michigan State's starting lineup is pretty-much etched in stone as Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne all return from the 2012-13 starting lineup. But the fifth spot is a little bit more unsettled. Sophomore Matt Costello earned the start in the season opener, along with the two exhibition games, totaling six points, three rebounds and three blocks against McNeese State. But redshirt junior Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling are also in contention for the spot. In three games, the trio is averaging a combined 6.0 points and 6.8 rebounds

Spartan Freshmen
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.

A Look Back At 2012-13
Michigan State advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last six seasons, matching Kansas for the most in the nation during that stretch. MSU posted a 27-9 record, including a 13-5 mark in the Big Ten, finishing one game out of a conference championship. Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling each earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while Harris was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Coach Izzo
In his 19th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 443-178 (.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 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 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 (.722), 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 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.



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