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Men's Basketball
Michigan State Hosts North Carolina In Big Ten/ACC Challenge
 
 
 
The No. 1 Spartans host North Carolina Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

 
The No. 1 Spartans host North Carolina Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
 
 

Dec. 3, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. -

#1/1 Michigan State (7-0) vs. #rv/25 North Carolina (4-2)
 Date Wednesday, December 4, 2013
 Time 9 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
 Game Notes Michigan State | North Carolina
 Statistics  Michigan State | North Carolina
 Internet Coverage   Gametracker | Live Stats (Mobile Users)
 Social Media @MSU_Basketball   |  Facebook

THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State hosts North Carolina in the 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This is the fifth meeting between the Spartans and Tar Heels in the 15-year history of the challenge, tying Minnesota-Florida State for the most-played challenge matchup. The two teams last met in East Lansing in Nov. 2000 for the challenge.

THE STARTING FIVE
1. Big Ten/ACC Challenge History

Michigan State is 6-7 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and had its 2001 game against Virginia in Richmond cancelled due to unplayable wet floor conditions. This is the fifth Challenge meeting between the Spartans and Tar Heels, as MSU won in 1999 and 2000, with UNC winning in 2008 and 2009. After dropping the first 10 challenges, the Big Ten has captured three of the last four, with the conferences splitting the 2012 Challenge, 6-6.

2. Outside Shooting
Michigan State is shooting .388 from 3-point range (57-of-147), ranking third in the Big Ten. Four Spartans (Gary Harris-13, Keith Appling-12, Travis Trice-11, Adreian Payne-10) each average more than one made 3-pointer per game. The Spartans have made 10 or more 3-pointers in three games, after doing it just once last season. 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.

3. Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State is averaging 22.0 assists on the season, pacing the Big Ten and leading the nation. With 154 assists on 227 made field goals, the Spartans are recording an assist on 67.8 percent of their baskets. MSU also leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) (NCAA stats through Dec. 1). Keith Appling is second in the conference in assists (5.6 apg) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3). Five Spartans average two or more assists as Denzel Valentine (4.0 apg), Travis Trice (3.1 apg), Gary Harris (2.8 apg), and Branden Dawson (2.6 apg) join Appling.

4. On The Run
Michigan State is eager to get out in transition this season, even more so than normal. Speaking at MSU's annual media day, Izzo told the assembled media "I think we should be a team that can run, run, run and run." Through seven games, MSU is averaging 85.9 points per game, including 20.4 points in transition. This includes a dominating 21-2 edge in fast break points against Kentucky.

5. Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of MSU's first of 16 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 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 (160), Duke (153), Kentucky (152), and Connecticut (144).

MSU VS. NORTH CAROLINA NOTES
Coach Williams

Roy Williams (North Carolina, '72) is 704-182 in his 26th season as a collegiate head coach, including 286-81 in 11 seasons at North Carolina. Williams has the highest winning percentage (.795) of any active head coaching, ranking sixth all-time.

Series History
North Carolina leads the all-time series, 11-3, although the two teams have split the two games in East Lansing. The Spartans and Tar Heels have split the four challenge games. No. 8 Michigan State won at No. 2 North Carolina in the inaugural challenge in 1999, defeating the Tar Heels, 86-76, behind 31 points from Morris Peterson, handing UNC its first loss in a home opener since 1928. The following year, No. 3 MSU defeated No. 6 UNC, 77-64, in a Top-10 showdown at Breslin Center. The two teams met again in the 2008 challenge as No. 1 UNC defeated No. 13 MSU, 98-63, at Detroit's Ford Field, in what turned out to be a preview of the 2009 title game at the same venue. Eight months after the championship game, the two teams met again in Chapel Hill in 2009 with the No. 10 Tar Heels holding on for an 89-82 victory over the ninth-ranked Spartans.

The Last Meeting
North Carolina defeated Michigan State, 67-55, in the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, played on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego on Nov. 11, 2011. An early 15-2 run gave MSU a 15-8 lead with 11:54 left in the first half. MSU still held a 19-14 lead with under eight minutes left when Draymond Green tried to hit Branden Dawson streaking down the court after a rebound. Dawson slipped on the logo sticker at midcourt, resulting in a turnover and UNC hit a 3-pointer in the ensuing scramble to spark a 12-0 run. Midway through the run, Keith Appling picked up his third foul at the 3:49 mark of the first half. UNC outscored MSU 12-6 in his absence to take a 36-25 lead at the half, going on to win 67-55. Green led MSU with 13 points and 18 rebounds, while Dawson and Adreian Payne scored 10. Harrison Barnes led UNC with 17 points.

The Last Meeting In East Lansing
Michigan State defeated North Carolina, 77-64, on Nov. 29, 2000, in Breslin Center. The Spartans went on a 14-2 run late in the first half en route to a 42-29 halftime advantage. The Tar Heels never got closer than seven points in the second half. Jason Richardson led a balanced attack with 16 points, while Charlie Bell added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Andre Hutson narrowly missed a double-double with 14 points and nine boards. Kris Lang led UNC with 22 points, while Bell held preseason All-American Joseph Forte to 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting and five turnovers.

About North Carolina
North Carolina averages 8.0 steals per contest ... Just 17.2 percent of North Carolina's field-goal attempts are 3-pointers, as Marcus Paige (17-of-38) is the only Tar Heel with more than two made 3-point field goals ... The MSU game marks the fourth straight game away from Chapel Hill for UNC ... North Carolina's roster features seven prep All-Americans ... North Carolina's record includes a 93-84 win over No. 3 Louisville.

BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE NOTES
Challenge History

This is the 15th season of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. MSU is 6-7 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.

Nov. 28, 2012 - Miami 67 - MSU 59 - Coral Gables, Fla.
Miami shot 62.5 percent from 3-point range in the second half, and held the Spartans without a field goal for 5:22 to pull away midway through the second half. Keith Appling led MSU with 15 points. Miami shot 16-of-18 from the foul line, while MSU was just 5-of-11.

GM. 7 RECAP • MICHIGAN ST. 98 - MOUNT ST. MARY'S 65
The contest was tight through the early moments of the first half, with Michigan State holding a slim 23-22 lead at the 11:22 mark. An 8-0 Spartan run gave MSU a little room, but Mount St. Mary's quickly trimmed its deficit back to four points. Closing the half on a 9-2 run over the final 3:28 gave MSU a 50-38 halftime advantage. A 10-0 run to start the second half pushed MSU's lead out to 22 points and the Spartans cruised from there. Keith Appling led the Spartans with 17 points off the bench, while MSU's starting backcourt of Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine combined for 30 points, 13 assists and just two turnovers. Mount St. Mary's was led by Will Miller who connected on 5-of-10 first-half 3-pointers for 15 points, but was held to just two shot attempts and no points in the second half.

MSU VS. MOUNT ST. MARY'S NOTES
* Travis Trice and Alvin Ellis III made their first career starts.
* Trice scored 15 points, marking the second-highest scoring output of his career, and the best since scoring 20 points in December of his freshman season.
* Denzel Valentine recorded a career-best seven assists.
* Michigan State scored a season-high 58 points in the paint.
* Led by Keith Appling's 17 points, MSU held a 51-19 advantage in bench scoring.
* Branden Dawson led the Spartans in rebounding for the sixth time in seven games.
* Michigan State recorded 28 assists while committing just nine turnovers.
* Michigan State shot a season-high 63.1 percent from the field.
* Kenny Kaminski (8 points) and Gavin Schilling (6 points) recorded season highs in scoring, while Matt Costello (8 points) matched his career high.

MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
MSU At No. 1

Michigan State is currently No. 1 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Polls for the third straight week, marking the first time MSU has ever held the top spot for three weeks in one season. 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 season 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 seventh 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. The Spartans have an all-time record of 9-3 at No. 1, including 4-0 this season.

Spartan Spurtability
MSU's dynamic offense has shown the ability to score points in bunches. During the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, the Spartans closed the first half on both games with large runs. Against Virginia Tech, MSU had a 15-3 run over the final 4:18. The next day, MSU closed the Oklahoma first half on a 34-9 run over the final 10:38, including a 13-0 spurt over the final 4:36. MSU has also shown the ability to start with a burst, opening the Kentucky game with a 10-0 run, and a 9-0 run vs. Columbia. MSU used a 19-2 run over two halfs to put Mount St. Mary's away.

Spartans At The Charity Stripe
Michigan State is shooting .732 from the foul line this season. The three Spartans that attempt the most free throws (Appling-33 attempts, .727; Payne-26 attempts, .808, Harris-24 attempts, .875) are each shooting better than 72 percent from the foul line.

Payne From Deep
Through the first 87 games of his career, Adreian Payne shot just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Over the last 27 games, he is 26-of-62 (.419) averaging just under one made 3-pointer per contest. On six occasions, including three times this season, he's made more than one in a game.

Spartans Hit The Mark
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage at .506. The Spartans have shot 50 percent or better in four of seven games, including a season-high .631 against Mount St. Mary's. MSU has shot better than its opponent in every game this season.

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 ranks third on the team in scoring (15.9 ppg) and and second in rebounding (7.7 rpg). He's posted a double-double in three games this season and nine of the last 18 dating back to last season. Against Virginia Tech, he scored a career-high 29 points.

Appling Runs The Team
Senior Keith Appling is in his third season as Michigan State's starting point guard, gaining more confidence each season. He's finished in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in assists in each of the last two seasons, but he spoke this offseason about becoming better at running his team, gaining praise from Coach Izzo for his development. He's averaging a career-best 5.6 assists per game and owns a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking in the top three in the Big Ten in both categories. In a win over No. 1 Kentucky, Appling dished out eight assists, in addition to his 22 points and eight rebounds. Coach Izzo described Appling's 25-point, seven-assist effort vs. Portland "one of the greatest point guard performances in many, many, many years when you look at what he shot and the decisions he made. He did just an unbelievable job defensively ... He was worth the price of admission." Recently, he paced MSU with a career-high 27 points vs. Oklahoma, earning Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic MVP honors.

Breslin Advantage
Michigan State is 331-46 (.878) at home all-time since Breslin Center opened in 1989, including 171-35 (.830) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 257-31 (.892) at Breslin, including a 130-22 (.855) conference record. MSU has won 38 of the last 40 games at Breslin. The Spartans have won 73 of the last 74 non-conference home games, and 74 straight games against unranked non-conference opponents at Breslin.

Nation's Best Backcourt
With Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Branden Dawson in the starting lineup and Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine coming off the bench, Michigan State stakes a strong claim for having the nation's best backcourt. All five rank among MSU's top six in scoring, while Appling, Harris, Dawson and Trice have each scored 20 or more points at least once during their career. Not only are they dynamic offensively, they also can provide lockdown defense.

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 seven opponents are shooting .388 from the floor, including .331 from 3-point range.

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 9.7 rebounds, leading the team in six of seven games, and 10.3 points. His tip-in with five seconds remaining sealed the win over No. 1 Kentucky. Dawson is tied with Adreian Payne for the team lead with three double-doubles.

Taking Care Of The Ball
Admittedly it is early, but Michigan State is on pace to shatter the mark for fewest turnovers during the Tom Izzo era. MSU is currently averaging 10.3 turnovers. The previous low during the Izzo era was 13.0 in 2011-12.

Returning Productivity
MSU returns six of its top seven scorers from last season, in featuring one of the nation's most experienced rosters to start the season. The Spartans return 84.2 percent of their scoring, 79.3 percent of their rebounding and 84.0 percent of their assists. Five returning Spartans started 15 or more games last season, including four with 24 or more starts. Six returners played 500 or more minutes last season. By comparison, entering last year, just five Spartans had played more than 350 minutes in their career.

Big Ten Strength
Once again, the Big Ten will make a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball, an honor bestowed on it by ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman on Nov. 5. Six conference teams are currently ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll, including No. 1 Michigan State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 21 Michigan, No. 23 Indiana and No. 24 Iowa. 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 leads the Spartans in scoring, averaging 17.7 points per contest, scoring 20 or more points in three of six games.

MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are currently ranked No. 1 in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. Seven Spartan opponents are also ranked in at least one of the polls, including Kentucky (3 AP/4 USA Today), Ohio State (5/3), Wisconsin (8/9), Michigan (22/21), Iowa (23/24), and Indiana (-/23).

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 481 of 624 opponents (.771), posting a 381-100 (.792) mark in those games. Last season, the Spartans out-rebounded 32 of 36 opponents. This season, MSU owns a +5.4 rebounding margin, but has been out-rebounded in three of seven 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 And Naismith Award Watch Lists
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. Harris and Payne have also been named to the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List.

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 (8.3 ppg) and minutes (23.6 mpg), while Trice ranks sixth in scoring (7.6 ppg) and minutes (20.6 mpg). Valentine (4.0 apg) is second in assists, while Trice (3.1 apg) is third. Both players also shoot at least 40 percent from 3-point range.

Payne's Block Party
Senior Adreian Payne ranks second in Michigan State history with 123 career blocks, just 12 behind MSU career leader Drew Naymick (134 blocks). Payne blocked a career-best five shots in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament against Memphis, en route to 46 on the season, good for the sixth-best single-season effort in school history.

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. In total, the Spartans will face 15 teams that competed in postseason play, playing 19 of 31 regular-season games against postseason participants.

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 1,236 career points, he ranks 27th in MSU career scoring, six points behind Stan Washington (1,242 points) and 39 behind Quinton Brooks (1,275 points). With 834 points, Adreian Payne is on pace to become the next Spartan to reach 1,000 career points.

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 CBSSports.com. Sophomore Gary Harris was selected as a first-team All-American by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, while being tabbed as a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports, Athlon Sports and CBSSports.com. 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 has been the starter in six of the first seven games. But redshirt junior Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling are also in contention for the spot. The trio is averaging a combined 6.9 points and 6.7 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.

THE BOOK ON Tom Izzo

Coach Izzo
In his 19th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 446-178 (.715), 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 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 (.726), Izzo (.715), 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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