Nov. 27, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State makes its third road trip of November, traveling to Miami for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Spartans have won five straight games since dropping the season opener in Germany. The Big Ten is looking to win its fourth straight challenge.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Big Ten/ACC Challenge History
Michigan State is 6-6 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and had its 2001 game against Virginia in Richmond cancelled due to unplayable wet floor conditions. The Spartans and Hurricanes have never met in challenge history. After dropping the first 10 challenges, the Big Ten has captured the last three. (Recaps on page 7)
2. Short-Handed Spartans
The Spartans have been at less than full strength for most of the season, especially in the backcourt. Travis Trice has been out of action since suffering a concussion in the season opener against Connecticut. Less than one minute into the Boise State contest, Gary Harris suffered a shoulder sprain that forced him to miss the following two games. In addition to being two of the team's top perimeter shooters, their absence has forced other players into more minutes. In particular, Keith Appling has played 116 of 120 minutes over the last three games (38.7 mpg), while Branden Dawson is averaging 28.8 minutes this season, just over eight months after ACL surgery.
3. Too Many Turnovers
One early area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 16.5 per game, including 20 in each of the last two games. MSU's primary ballhandler Keith Appling, however, is averaging just 2.5 per contest despite averaging more than 36 minutes, posting a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
4. Spartan Defense
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 .373 from the field, including .283 from 3-point range, ranking third in the Big Ten.
5. There's An App For That
Keith Appling entered the season as Michigan State's leading returning scorer and assist distributor, and the junior guard has picked up right where he left off in 2011-12. Through six games, Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (16.8 ppg - 4th Big Ten) and assists (4.2 apg - 5th Big Ten). One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .435 (10-of-23) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12. His play has not gone unnoticed by his head coach, as Tom Izzo remarked "I'm not an easy guy to please. But I'm really excited for him and proud of him for what he's doing right now in an incredible way."
MSU VS. MIAMI NOTES
This is the first ever meeting between Michigan State and Miami.
Jim Larranaga (Providence, `71) is 493-348 in 29 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including 23-14 in two seasons at Miami. Prior to directing the Hurricane program, Larranaga spent 14 seasons at George Mason, posting a 273-164 record, including guiding the Patriots to the 2006 Final Four, beginning the run with a 75-65 win over Michigan State. His head coaching career also includes an 11-year stint at Bowling Green (1987-97) and two seasons at American International (1977-79). Larranaga is 3-3 in his career against Michigan State, posting a 2-2 mark at Bowling Green and 1-1 at George Mason.
Miami is one of the bigger teams that Michigan State will face, likely starting two players 6-foot-10 or taller, and another two at 6-foot-5 ... Miami has shot better than 50 percent in all three home games this season ... Senior guard Durand Scott missed the first three games of the season due to an NCAA suspension, but returned to score 15 points in the last game against Detroit ... Senior center Reggie Johnson is averaging a double-double at 11.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per contest.
GM. 6 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 63 - LOUISIANA 60
Playing for the fourth time in eight days, Michigan State held off a late run by Louisiana, emerging with a 63-60 victory. The Ragin' Cajuns got off to a hot start and held a 20-13 lead midway through the first half. The Spartans answered with a 10-1 run to take a 23-21 lead, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Russell Byrd and Brandan Kearney. At the half, MSU has pushed its lead up to six points at 33-27. The Spartans led by as many as 10 points in the half, and held a 60-50 lead with 3:09 remaining. However, they committed three turnovers in the final 2:27, facilitating a Cajun comeback. The final turnover resulted in a transition layup for UL, cutting MSU's lead to two points at 62-60 with 51 seconds remaining. On MSU's next possession, Adreian Payne missed a layup, giving the ball back to the Cajuns with the chance to tie or take the lead. UL missed a shot and Branden Dawson lept above everyone to pull down the rebound. He hit the front end of a one-and-one pushing the lead to three, and the Cajuns missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as MSU escaped with the victory.
MSU VS. LOUISIANA NOTES
* All nine Spartans that played scored.
* MSU improved to 3-1 in games decided by five points or less.
* The Spartans scored a season-high 18 points from the foul line.
* Keith Appling led the Spartans in scoring for the fifth time through the first six games.
* Adreian Payne notched his first double-figure rebounding effort (10) of the season.
* Brandan Kearney recorded career highs in points (10) and minutes (29).
* Tom Izzo improved to 49-0 all-time at home in November.
* The Spartans recorded the 100th November victory in program history.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
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 451 of 587 opponents (.768), posting a 357-94 (.792) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all six opponents this season, posting a +9.7 margin, including averaging 11.3 offensive rebounds per game.
Harris Out Of Action
Gary Harris suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the game against Boise State, and has missed the last two games. Prior to the BSU contest, he was MSU's leading scorer, averaging 16.0 points through three games. He was just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups through the season's first six games, as the Spartans work with different combinations. Nine players are averaging more than 16 minutes per game, and 11 are averaging six minutes or more. Finding a rotation is a chore for the Spartan coaching staff that's been made even more difficult due to injuries to Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Gary Harris. In fact, MSU has not had its full allotment of scholarship players available for any game, including exhibitions.
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks third in the Big Ten with a .655 field-goal percentage (19-of-29). Payne is averaging 7.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played more than 20 minutes in just two games, averaging 9.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in those contests. In the other four games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls and had to sit for large stretches.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of 35.7-25.0, out-scoring four of its six opponents. MSU has dominated the paint in two of its last four games, out-scoring Texas Southern, 46-10, and Oakland, 40-16.
Spartans Shooting Better
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 10 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better six times. Through the first six games, MSU is shooting .476 from the field, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. Individually, Adreian Payne ranks third in the conference at .655 (19-of-29).
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix leads the Spartans and ranks tied for fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.7 caroms per contest. 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. Two games later, he equalled the 11-board effort against Texas Southern.
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 18 steals through the first six games of the season (3.0 spg), pacing the Big Ten. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. For comparison, Draymond Green led the 2011-12 Spartans with 54 steals.
MSU In November
Michigan State has an all-time record of 100-29 in games played in the month of November. This includes a 71-3 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 49-0 all-time at home in November.
Appling Takes Over
In three of Michigan State's five 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 again, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. With six seconds left, he hit one of two free throws to secure the win. 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.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (12.0 ppg), and fifth in minutes (22.8 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (3.2 apg), second in blocks (0.8 bpg), fourth in rebounds (4.5 rpg) and fourth in minutes (24.8 mpg).
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 71-50, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +3.5 points per game (11.8-8.3). The Spartans are averaging 11.3 offensive boards per game. MSU has 68 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 116 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .370.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 15 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 164 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 (151), Kentucky (147), Duke (144) and Connecticut (137). (Through Nov. 25)
Frequent Flier Miles
With trips to Ramstein Air Base (vs. Connecticut), Atlanta (vs. Kansas) and Miami, Michigan State will travel nearly 12,000 miles in the month of November. In fact, the Spartans had flown more than 9500 miles prior to their home opener.
Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten will make a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Indiana (No. 1), Michigan (No. 3), Ohio State (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 13), Minnesota (No. 21), and Illinois (No. 22) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Nov. 26), while Wisconsin received votes. To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined 11 games against those six teams during conference play. Michigan State's single plays are at Iowa and Penn State, and hosting Illinois and Northwestern. Last season, eight of the 12 league teams participated in the postseason, including five teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Another Tough Start
Last year, MSU opened the schedule with back-to-back games against ranked opponents for the first time in school history. While that won't be the case this season, the start of the year is no less formidable. The Spartans open the season in Germany, playing UConn at Ramstein Air Base in the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 9. Four days later, the Spartans will play No. 7 Kansas, the 2012 National Runner-Up, in the Champions Classic in Atlanta, Ga. This is the first time since 1918-19 and 1919-20 that Michigan State will open the season with two games away from East Lansing in back-to-back seasons.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne ranks ninth in MSU history with 78 career blocks. Paul Davis is eighth on the career list with 87 blocks. Earlier this season, Payne equalled his career high with four blocks against Kansas.
Michigan State returns four of its top six scorers and 10 of its top 13 scorers from last season. The Spartans return 58.6% of their minutes, 57.6% percent of their scoring, 51.7% of their rebounding, and 54.8% percent of their assists. Keith Appling was the only player to start all 37 games last year, while Adreian Payne (36) and Branden Dawson (31) also started more than 30 contests. In addition, Derrick Nix entered the year having started 18 games in his career. On the other hand, however, only five Spartans entered the season having played more than 350 minutes in their time at MSU.
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.
More Non-Conference Highlights
The games against Connecticut and Kansas to open the season get a bulk of the attention, but there are other highlights throughout the non-conference schedule. Michigan State will travel to Miami for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. The highlight of the home schedule is a game against Texas on Dec. 22. In addition, MSU is returning to Jenison Field House for the first time since 1989, hosting Tuskegee on Dec. 15, while also celebrating the 50th anniversary season of the "Game of Change" contest between Mississippi State and Loyola in the 1963 NCAA Tournament at Jenison.
Michigan State welcomes a talented and decorated class to the team in 2012-13. Gary Harris was a 2012 McDonald's All-American, and the recipient of the Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Basketball award, averaging 25.4 points at Hamilton Southeastern. Matt Costello was the Hal Schram Michigan Mr. Basketball Award winner after averaging 25 points and 19 rebounds as a senior at Bay City Western. Denzel Valentine led Lansing Sexton to back-to-back Class B state championships, and was the 2012 Associated Press Class B Player of the Year after nearly averaging a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Kenny Kaminski missed most of his senior season at Medina with a shoulder injury, but returned in time to lead his team to the Elite Eight of the state tournament. Harris, Costello and Valentine all are expected to contribute this year, while a different shoulder injury makes Kaminski a possible redshirt candidate.
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has captured at least a share of the Big Ten Championship in three of the last four seasons. After winning the title outright in 2009, the Spartans shared the conference crown in 2010 and 2012. Last season, 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.
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").
ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE NOTES
This is the 14th season of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan State is 6-6 in the challenge and had its 2001 game against Virginia in Richmond cancelled due to unplayable wet floor conditions. The Big Ten has won the challenge the last three seasons.
Dec. 1, 1999 - MSU 86 - North Carolina 76 - Chapel Hill, N.C.
Morris Peterson scored 31 points to hand the Tar Heels their first loss in a home opener since 1928. All-American Mateen Cleaves missed the game with a stress fracture in his foot.
Nov. 29, 2000 - MSU 77 - North Carolina 64 - East Lansing, Mich.
Jason Richardson led MSU with 16 points and Charlie Bell tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while holding UNC All-American Joseph Forte 11 points below his scoring average.
Nov. 28, 2001 - MSU vs. Virginia (Cancelled) - Richmond, Va.
The game was halted at the 15:04 mark of the second half due to unplayable floor conditions as unseasonably warm temperatures caused a steady supply of moisture to collect on the court laid over a sheet of ice used by a minor league hockey team.
Dec. 4, 2002 - MSU 82 - Virginia 75 - East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State used a 17-0 first-half run to take control of the contest, as Chris Hill led
four Spartans in double figures with 22 points.
Dec. 3, 2003 - Duke 72 - MSU 50 - East Lansing, Mich.
Duke out-shot MSU, 59.2%-40.0%, from the field and the Spartans committed 20 turnovers, including 17 in the first half.
Nov. 30, 2004 - Duke 81 - MSU 74 - Durham, N.C.
J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing each scored 29 points for Duke, including a combined 35 in the first half. MSU pulled within a single point in the final three minutes, but could not overcome shooting 9-of-18 at the foul line in the second half.
Nov. 30, 2005 - MSU 88 - Georgia Tech 86 - East Lansing, Mich.
Paul Davis scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, but Georgia Tech hit five 3-pointers in the final 1:26 and nearly rallied from a 10-point deficit. Shannon Brown also scored 22 for MSU.
Nov. 29, 2006 - Boston College 65 - MSU 58 - Boston, Mass.
Boston College turned 17 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points and held off a late Spartan run to take the victory.
Nov. 28, 2007 - MSU 81 - North Carolina State 58 - East Lansing, Mich.
Goran Suton's 16-point, 12-rebound double-double led the Spartans, as Michigan State jumped to a 41-19 halftime lead and cruised to victory.
Dec. 3, 2008 - North Carolina 98 - MSU 63 - Detroit, Mich.
North Carolina turned 22 MSU turnovers into 27 points and the Spartans shot just 20 percent in the second half, including connecting on just 1-of-14 shots from 3-point range. Raymar Morgan scored 21 to lead MSU.
Dec. 1, 2009 - North Carolina 89 - MSU 82 - Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but MSU battled back to within six points and possession of the ball with 90 seconds left. The Spartans, however, were hampered by poor shooting as MSU shot just 2-of-20 from 3-point range. UNC out-shot MSU, 57.9%-43.0%.
Dec. 1, 2010 - Duke 84 - MSU 79 - Durham, N.C.
Freshman Kyrie Irving scored 31 points to lead Duke past MSU. The Spartans shot 49.2 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from 3-point range, but couldn't overcome 20 turnovers, resulting in 28 Blue Devil points. MSU almost stole a victory thanks in part to 16 offensive rebounds, resulting in 18 second-chance points.
Nov. 30, 2011 - MSU 65 - Florida State 49 - East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans used a 12-2 run midway through the second half to take a 51-42 lead en route to a 16-point victory. Keith Appling had a dominating 24-point, seven rebound effort, and Brandon Wood added 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. In fact, Appling, Wood and Draymond Green (16 points), out-scored FSU, 56-49. Green recorded his 1,000th career point in the contest.
THE BOOK ON Tom Izzo
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 417-170 (.710), and 196-90 (.689) 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 .685 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 (.710), 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 (.725), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Izzo (.710) and Lambert (.709). With 196 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.