Nov. 22, 2011
The Opening Tip
Michigan State looks for its third straight win as it hosts Milwaukee in the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. Milwaukee is MSU's fifth straight opponent to open the season that either played in the NCAA Tournament or NIT last year. The Spartans have been impressive defensively in their last two games, holding opponents to 44.0 points and .290 FG shooting.
The Starting Five
1. About The Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational
The Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational is a six-team, 13-day, partial round-robin, featuring Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, IUPUI, Milwaukee, Texas Southern and UALR. The Spartans will not play IUPUI, host Texas Southern (Nov. 18), UALR (Nov. 20) and Milwaukee (Nov. 23) and travel to Eastern Michigan (Nov. 27).
2. In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored each of its four opponents in the paint by an average of 33.5-19.0. The Spartans even out-scored No. 1 North Carolina in the paint, 34-32, despite the Tar Heels having what some consider to be the premier frontline in the country.
3. Too Many Turnovers
One area of concern for the Spartans has been the turnovers through the first four games. MSU is committing 17.5 per game, while forcing 16.8 by its opponents. The Spartans, however, are averaging 17.0 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 15.8 points by opponents off MSU turnovers.
4. Balanced Scoring
Four different Spartans have led Michigan State in scoring through the first four games of the season. Draymond Green (13 vs. UNC), Keith Appling (22 vs. Duke), Branden Dawson (13 vs. Texas Southern) and Austin Thornton (13 vs. UALR) have each paced MSU. Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Brandon Wood also have scored in double figures at least once this season, making seven different players to score 10 or more in a game.
5. New Faces
Six of the 11 players in the Spartan playing group are seeing their first action in a Michigan State uniform (Russell Byrd, Branden Dawson, Alex Gauna, Brandan Kearney, Travis Trice, Brandon Wood). The six are averaging 45 percent of the scoring and 43.5 percent of the minutes. There are just two players on the 2011-12 roster (Keith Appling and Draymond Green) who averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season. As another point of comparison, Draymond Green has more career points at MSU (960) than all of his teammates combined (828).
MSU vs. UWM Notes
This is the first ever meeting between Michigan State and Milwaukee.
Rob Jeter (UW-Platteville, '91) is 105-89 in his seventh season as a collegiate head coach, all at Milwaukee. The 2011 Horizon League Coach of the Year, Jeter led Milwaukee to the 2011 regular-season league title. He also led the Panthers to the 2006 regular-season and tournament titles, even defeating Oklahoma in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to arriving at UWM, Jeter was an assistant for four seasons at Wisconsin under head coach Bo Ryan. As a player, he captained the 1991 UW-Platteville squad that won the NCAA Division III national title.
Milwaukee has four players averaging double-figures in scoring, led by junior guard Ja'Rob McCallum ... UWM is holding opponents to .365 shooting, including .222 from 3-point range ... In the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational, Milwaukee has recorded home wins over IUPUI (62-49) and Texas Southern (73-38) ... The Panthers boast a +9.8 rebounding margin ... Last season, Milwaukee won the Horizon League regular-season title, but fell to Butler in the tournament title game and advanced to the NIT ... Like MSU, UWM has had seven players score in double figures in at least one game .
Wood Vs. The Panthers
While MSU has never faced Milwaukee, Spartan senior Brandon Wood has faced Milwaukee four times in his career, while playing at Valparaiso the last two seasons. Wood is averaging 20.3 points in his four career games vs. the Panthers.
Gm. 4 Recap Michigan State 69 - UALR 47
Michigan State recorded its second straight win with a 69-47 win over UALR. The Spartans got off to a quick start, using a 13-0 run to take an 18-5 lead at the 11:28 mark of the first half. The Spartans, however, failed to extend the lead and took a 32-22 advantage into the break. Brandon Wood led the Spartans with nine first-half points. The second half proved to be more of the same, as MSU threatened to run away with the game several times, pushing the lead up to 19 just over four minutes into the second half, but each time, UALR would make a mini-run and just continue to hang around. The Spartans finally extended the lead beyond 20 points in the final six minutes of the contest.
MSU vs. UALR Notes
* For the first time on the season, MSU had fewer turnovers (16) than its opponent (19).
* Austin Thornton scored a career-high 13 points and recorded a career-best three steals.
* MSU was out-rebounded, 20-17, and did not record an offensive rebound in the first half, but bounced back with seven in the second half and finished the game with a 40-36 advantage on the glass.
* The Spartans were just 25-of-41 from the foul line as Keith Appling (4-8) missed as many foul shots (4) as he did all of last season (34-38).
* MSU's defense recorded 14 steals, and held UALR to just 31.5 percent shooting, including 21.1 percent from 3-point range.
* MSU held an 18-2 edge in fast-break points, and a 21-12 advantage in points off turnovers.
MSU Basketball Notes
It's All About Boardwork
After leading the nation in rebounding margin in both 2009 (+9.3) and 2010 (+8.6), Michigan State ranked 48th in the nation last season at +4.0. The Spartans have shown a better effort in 2011-12, out-rebounding all four opponents by a +10.3 margin, including two by more than 10 (+15 vs. North Carolina, +21 vs. Texas Southern). The Spartans have led the nation in rebounding margin in four of the last 12 seasons, ranking in the top 10 seven times and the top 25 on 10 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in 11 of the last 14 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 420 of 548 opponents (.766), posting a 330-90 (.786) mark in those games.
MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 92-28 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 65-3 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 43-0 all-time at home in November.
Green Approaches 1,000
Draymond Green has scored 960 career points, 40 points shy of becoming the 42nd player in MSU history to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career. With 749 rebounds, he also has a shot at becoming just the fourth player in MSU history with 1,000 career boards, and the third player with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, joining Greg Kelser and Johnny Green. Given that the Spartans play 31 regular season games, at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament and possibly at least postseason game, Green would need to average 9.03 rebounds to reach 1,000 for his career.
Green Up For Senior CLASS Award
Draymond Green is one of 30 male candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The candidate poll will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the season.
Another Strong Non-Conference Schedule
While much of the attention is directed at back-to-back games vs. North Carolina and Duke, there is more meat to MSU's non-conference schedule. Other highlights include a Nov. 30 game vs. Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, a top-three pick in the ACC, and a Dec. 10 trip to Gonzaga. In total, seven of MSU's 13 non-conference opponents appeared in the 2011 postseason, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament. Including Big Ten foes, 15 Spartan opponents appeared in last year's postseason, including 11 in the NCAA Tournament.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season (including 2011-12 - through Nov. 20), the year of Michigan State's first of 14 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 148 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 (143), Connecticut (138), Kentucky (137) and Duke (133).
Toughest Start Ever
Michigan State opens the season with the toughest start in the nation with back-to-back neutral-site contests vs. No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. MSU is the first team to open the season against North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games since Wake Forest and North Carolina State did it in November 1976. Michigan State also has never opened a season with two games against ranked opponents.
Big Ten Contenders
Michigan State was picked third by a panel of media in the 2011-12 Big Ten preseason poll. Ohio State and Wisconsin were picked to finish first and second, respectively. Draymond Green found a spot on the preseason all-conference team, joining Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor.
Draymond's Senior Campaign
Senior forward Draymond Green is a familiar face among all the new ones in the Michigan State lineup. A three-year captain, Green is on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and the Naismith Award Watch list, and a preseason All-Big Ten selection by Lindy's Sports College Basketball and Sporting News College Basketball. Rated the No. 2 small forward in the nation by Lindy's, Green was one of just 10 players in the nation to lead his team in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and assists (4.1 apg) last year. Named to Dick Vitale's All-Solid Gold Preseason All-America Fourth Team, he has tallied 18 career double-doubles, and is one of just three players in school history to record a triple-double, ranking second with two.
Looking For A Super Sophomore Year
Michigan State's second-most experienced player is sophomore guard Keith Appling, although he'll be taking on a little bit of a different role this year. Last season, Appling opened exclusively on the wing, but made the transition to back-up point midway through the conference schedule. That experience will come in handy as he'll open the season as MSU's starting point guard. As a freshman, Appling averaged 6.4 points and 1.3 assists, scoring in double figures on eight occasions.
MSU's Freshman Class
Michigan State welcomes in a three-member freshman scholarship class: Branden Dawson, Brandan Kearney, Travis Trice. Dawson was a 2011 McDonald's All-American and a PARADE Magazine Third-Team All-American, averaging 28.7 points, 18.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists as a senior at Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Ind. Kearney was a 2011 Class A First-Team All-State honoree, averaging 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists at Detroit Southeastern High School. Trice was named the 2011 Gatorade Ohio Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaging 23.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.3 rebounds at Wayne High School in Ohio.
An Experienced New Face
Although he has never played a minute for Michigan State, senior Brandon Wood brings a wealth of college basketball experience to the Spartan lineup. A two-time All-Horizon League performer at Valparaiso the last two seasons, Wood transfered to MSU in May after receiving his sports marketing and business degree. NCAA rules allow an institution to apply for a waiver to allow a student-athlete to transfer without sitting out a season, provided the student-athlete has earned a bachelor's degree, has eligibility remaining and is enrolling in a graduate-level program. In two seasons at Valpo, Wood scored 1,117 points, including averaging 17.7 ppg as a sophomore and 16.7 ppg as a junior. He's also performed at a high level against some of the nation's best teams, scoring 30 points vs. North Carolina, 24 vs. Michigan State and 21 vs. Purdue as a sophomore, followed by 20 vs. Purdue as a junior.
In The Rankings
Seven different Spartan opponents are ranked in at least one of the two polls, including North Carolina (1 AP/1 USA Today), Ohio State (3/3), Duke (6/6), Wisconsin (11/11), Michigan (15/15), Gonzaga (19/19) and Florida State (22/20). MSU is receiving votes in both preseason polls.
Spartan Big Men
While Draymond Green gets a lot of attention in the Spartan frontcourt, he'll need his teammates to step up to make the unit strong. Sophomore center Adreian Payne and junior center Derrick Nix had strong summers and are both looking at breakout seasons this year. Payne suffered through a lingering shoulder injury for much of last season, but showed flashes of the skill set that led Coach Izzo to call him one of the most athletic big men he'd ever coached. His best game last season came against his home state Buckeyes, as he scored 10 points in 11 minutes at Ohio State (2/15). Nix dropped nearly 25 pounds and enters the season weighing 270. In addition to weight loss, Nix's body has undergone a transformation, allowing increased stamina on the court. In short stints last season, Nix showed excellent footwork and a strong array of post moves. In back-to-back games vs. Indiana (1/30) and Iowa (2/2), he averaged 10.5 points. Redshirt freshman Alex Gauna should also contribute to the Spartan frontcourt. The big forward adds the pick-and-pop threat to the offense.
Keith Appling and Draymond Green both benefitted from their experiences with USA Basketball over the summer. Green was a member of the World University Games team, averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, ranking second on the team in boards, and serving as a distributor from the forward position. Appling played with the FIBA U19 World Championship team, averaging 4.1 points and 10.3 minutes per contest, gaining some valuable experience at the point.
Same Name, Different Spellings
Among MSU's newcomers, three have the same first name, but it's spelled three different ways. Branden Dawson, Brandan Kearney and Brandon Wood each have a different second-to-last lettter in the first name. Pay close attention to eliminate typos.
Michigan State won its two exhibition games against Ferris State (85-58) and Hillsdale (80-58) by an average margin of 24.5 points, averaging 82.5 points per contest. The Spartans were led by Draymond Green, who paced MSU in scoring (13.0 ppg) and ranked second in rebounding (7.5 rpg). Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix each averaged 12.5 ppg, as Dawson led the Spartans with 15 points and nine boards against Ferris State. Adreian Payne started the second exhibition vs. Hillsdale and posted a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, as Payne averaged a team-best 8.0 boards in the two games.