Dec. 16, 2011
The Opening Tip
Coming off a big road win at Gonzaga, the Spartans are back at home to wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule with three games at Breslin Center. Michigan State opens the homestand by putting its eight-game win streak on the line as it hosts Bowling Green. This is the second straight year the Spartans and Falcons have met in East Lansing. The Spartans have spent the week between the Gonzaga and Bowling Green games taking academic finals.
The Starting Five
1. Winning Streak
Michigan State is riding an eight-game winning streak. Last year, MSU's longest winning streak was just three games to open the season. This is MSU's longest win streak since winning 10 straight from Dec 2009-Jan 2010. During the current streak, MSU is averaging 77.9 points and shooting .494 from the field, while holding opponents to 54.5 points on .348 shooting.
2. Green's Weekly Honors
One week after Keith Appling was named Big Ten Player of the Week, Draymond Green earned the honor on Dec. 12, sharing it with Indiana's Christian Watford. Green earned the honor on the strength of his career-high 34-point effort in MSU's win at Gonzaga. For the week, he averaged 24.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He was also named National Player of the Week by ESPN.com's Andy Katz and ESPN's Dick Vitale.
3. Becoming A Point Guard
Keith Appling has been asked to make the transition from the wing to point guard for Michigan State this season. As the season progresses, Appling seems more at home in his new position. While he did not have an assist in the first two games of the season, he's averaging 3.8 assists in his last eight games with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 5 after a pair of games (vs. Florida State and Nebraska Omaha) that saw him establish new career highs in scoring (24 pts. vs. FSU), rebounding (9 vs. UNO) and assists (7 vs. UNO). In his most recent game, he tied his career high with seven assists at Gonzaga. He's averaging 5.3 assists in the last three games.
4. Spartans Shooting Better
Michigan State got off to a slow start in terms of field-goal percentage this season, shooting .306 from the field against North Carolina outdoors on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Over the first six games of the season, MSU shot .423 from the field and .238 from 3-point range. In the last four games, however, MSU has shown dramatic improvement, hitting .527 from the field and .435 from 3-point range.
5. Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State ranks 13th in the nation in assists with 17.0 assists per game (through Dec. 11). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 62.5 percent of their baskets.
MSU vs. Bowling Green Notes
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Bowling Green, 9-3, including a 6-1 advantage in games played in East Lansing. Tom Izzo is 2-0 in his career against Bowling Green.
Louis Orr (Syracuse, '80) is 165-150 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 65-70 in his fifth season at Bowling Green. His coaching career also includes stops at Siena (2000-01) and Seton Hall (2001-06). He led the Pirates to two NCAA Tournament appearances, and earned Big East Coach of the Year honors in 2003. In 2009, he earned MAC Coach of the Year honors after leading the Falcons to a share of the regular-season title. This will be Orr's third time leading a team into the Breslin Center. In addition to last year's MSU-BGSU game, his Seton Hall squad fell to MSU, 68-64, during the 2001-02 season.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Bowling Green, 74-39, on Dec. 4, 2010, in Breslin Center. MSU led 25-19 at the half after shooting 29.6 percent in the first half. The Falcons then scored the first four points of the second half to cut the lead to two points. MSU responded with an 11-0 run. Draymond Green assisted on back-to-back 3-pointers, followed with a put-back basket and sparked a break for another 3-pointer with a defensive rebound. The Spartans shot 60 percent in the second half en route to 49 second-half points. Four Spartans scored in double-figures, led by Durrell Summers with 14 points. Scott Thomas led Bowling Green with 11 points. MSU held a 51-26 (+25) margin on the glass, including a season-high 18 offensive rebounds. BGSU's 39 points marked the fewest by a Spartan opponent since Brown scored 34 points on Nov. 8, 2006. MSU hit a season-high 12 3-pointers in a season-high 28 attempts.
Bowling Green's leading scorer A'uston Calhoun averaged 22.5 points during two games last week, and has scored in double figures in four consecutive contests ... Bowling Green ranks 23rd in the nation in turnover margin and has committed more turnovers than its opponent just once this season ... Scott Thomas ranks ninth in career steals at Bowling Green, averaging 2.0 this season ... Thomas was the only player to rank in the Top 10 in the MAC in rebounding and assists ... Over the last four games, the Falcons are holding opponents to 23.8 percent shooting from 3-point range (19-of-80).
Gm. 10 Recap Michigan St. 74 - Gonzaga 67
Michigan State used a strong inside performance and a career-high 34 points from Draymond Green to record an impressive road win at Gonzaga. The Spartans trailed 12-7 early, but quickly responded with a 7-0 run to show they were going to fight all game. Neither team led by more than three points for most of the first half, until MSU pushed the lead up to seven points at 31-24 with 2:35 remaining in the half. But the Bulldogs fought back and cut MSU's lead to 35-34 at the half. Green led MSU with 14 first-half points and the Spartans benefitted from 13 Gonzaga turnovers.
The Bulldogs held a 38-37 lead early in the second half. That's when Green hit a 3-pointer, sparking a 14-3 MSU run. During the run, Green scored 10 of MSU's 14 points, and also drew a charge on the defensive end. With 8:23 remaining, the Spartans had pushed the lead up to 14 points. Gonzaga made one final push and cut the lead to six points with 4:12 remaining. Green had MSU's answer again, knocking down a 3-pointer with 3:09 left. The Spartans made just enough free throws (9-of-16) down the stretch to hold on to the victory. Green scored 20 points in the second half, connecting on all six field goals, including three 3-pointers.
MSU vs. Gonzaga Notes
* The win over No. 23 Gonzaga was MSU's first true road win over a ranked non-conference opponent since a 71-67 win at No. 12 Kentucky on Dec. 14, 2002. It was MSU's first road win over any ranked opponent since a 53-44 win at No. 3 Purdue on Feb. 28, 2010.
* Michigan State's victory was just the seventh Gonzaga loss in 99 games at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
* Draymond Green scored a career-high 34 points on 11-of-13, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and 8-of-9 from the foul line.
* Keith Appling equaled his career high with seven assists.
* MSU's two centers, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, combined for 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds.
* Michigan State was out-rebounded for the first time all season, 28-25.
* MSU turned 20 Gonzaga turnovers into 23 points.
MSU Basketball Notes
Strong Spartan Defense
Michigan State's defensive effort has been impressive in the first month of the season. The Spartans are allowing just 57.7 points (ranking 30th in the nation through Dec. 11) on .367 shooting (18th in nation), including .296 from 3-point range (64th in nation). MSU also ranks 41st in the nation in steals (8.8 spg). Those numbers are especially impressive when you consider MSU's early schedule (Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Gonzaga). The Spartans rank fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, second in field-goal percentage defense and third in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. During MSU's eight-game win streak, the Spartans are allowing just 54.5 points on .348 shooting, including .272 from 3-point range.
Finding The Long Distance Connection
Through the first six games of the season, MSU was shooting just .269 from 3-point range (32-119). In the last four games, however, the Spartans have shown signs of breaking out of their slump, connecting on .435 of their shots (30-69) from behind the arc.
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 nine of 10 opponents by a +11.0 margin, including four by 15 or more, leading the Big Ten and ranking sixth in the nation (through Dec. 11). 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 425 of 554 opponents (.767), posting a 335-90 (.788) mark in those games.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents 141-77 in second chance points for the season. That's an average of +6.4 per game (14.1-7.7). The Spartans are averaging 13.5 offensive rebounds per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. MSU has 135 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 216 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .385, ranking second in the conference.
Three-Headed Scoring Attack
Three Spartans have emerged as Michigan State's leading scorers, as Draymond Green (16.3 ppg), Keith Appling (11.6 ppg) and Brandon Wood (9.4 ppg) are all averaging 9.0 ppg or better. It's been more pronounced over the last five games as the trio is averaging a combined 43.2 points (Green-20.2, Appling-12.6, Wood-10.4). As a group, they outscored Florida State, 56-49.
One of the reasons that MSU is able to rank among the nation's leaders in rebounding margin is that its guards have been strong on the glass. The Spartans' starting backcourt of Keith Appling (3.6 rpg), Brandon Wood (3.2 rpg) and Branden Dawson (4.5 rpg) averages 11.3 boards per contest.
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 38.4 percent of the scoring and 42.7 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 for MSU.
Climbing The Rebounding Charts
With 799 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks 10th in MSU history, four behind Lindsay Hairston (803) in ninth place. 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 one postseason game, Green (9.7 rpg) would need to average 9.03 rebounds this season to reach 1,000 for his career.
Five different Spartans have led Michigan State in scoring through the first 10 games of the season. Draymond Green (five times), Keith Appling (twice), Branden Dawson, Austin Thornton and Travis Trice have each paced MSU. Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne and Brandon Wood also have scored in double figures at least once this season, making eight different players to score 10 or more in a game.
The Turnover Story
One area of concern for the Spartans has been the turnovers through the first 10 games. MSU is committing 15.2 per game (although just 12.5 in the last four games), while forcing 16.1 by its opponents. The Spartans are averaging 16.4 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 13.2 points by opponents off MSU turnovers. The Spartans are 5-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent, but 3-2 when they have more.
Four different Spartans have recorded a double-double this season. Draymond Green leads the way with four double-doubles in the season's first 10 games. Adreian Payne, Brandon Wood and Branden Dawson have each recorded one double-double.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of 35.8-21.0, out-scoring eight of its 10 opponents. 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.
Getting To The Foul Line
Over the first five games of the season, Michigan State was shooting just .629 from the foul line. That has improved recently, as the Spartans are shooting .729 over the last five games. For the season, MSU is shooting .673 from the foul line, averaging 22.0 attempts per game.
The 1,000-Point Club
With a second-half tip-in vs. Florida State, Draymond Green became the 42nd player in MSU history to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career. With 1,079 points, he ranks 38th in MSU history, needing three to move past Goran Suton (1,054 points) into 37th place, 21 to move past Bill Kilgore (1,099 points) and 31 to move past Al Ferrari (1,109 points).
What A Difference A Year Makes
Through the first 10 games of the season, Derrick Nix is averaging 6.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 18.0 minutes per contest. Following his 11-point effort in 23 minutes vs. Milwaukee, Coach Tom Izzo called him one of his most reliable players. That's a contrast to last season when Nix averaged just 0.9 points and 2.3 rebounds, playing in just seven of the team's first 10 games, as he did not accompany the team to the Maui Invitational.
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 Dec. 14), the year of Michigan State's first of 14 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 149 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 (145), Connecticut (139), Kentucky (138) and Duke (136).
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 On Awards Lists
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. He's also one of 30 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.
An Experienced New Face
Although he had never played a minute for Michigan State prior to this season, 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. This year, Wood's started all 10 games for MSU, ranking third on the team in scoring at 9.4 ppg.
In The Rankings
Seven different Spartan opponents are ranked in at least one of the two polls, including Ohio State (2 AP/2 USA Today), North Carolina (5/6), Duke (7/5), Wisconsin (14/15), Indiana (18/20), Illinois (19/19) and Michigan (20/18). MSU is ranked No. 21 by the AP and No. 23 by ESPN/USA Today.
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.
The Book On Tom Izzo
In his 17th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 391-163 (.706), and 183-85 (.683) 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 16 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors four times, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001. 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 earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and 2009.
Among The Big Ten's Best
Tom Izzo's .683 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks fourth all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700) and former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.730), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.706). With 183 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 16 seasons, Tom Izzo won 383 games, ranking sixth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 16 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 (Tulsa). 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.