Dec. 17, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State is the first ranked team to play in the Stroh Center as the Spartans play their fourth game away from East Lansing this season, including their second true road game. Both teams enter the game playing great defense, as BGSU has held two straight teams under 50 points, and MSU has held its last four opponents to 30.4 percent shooting.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. 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 a Big Ten-low .354 from the field, including .311 from 3-point range. The Spartans have held their last four opponents to .304 shooting, including .294 from 3-point range.
2. 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 456 of 592 opponents (.770), posting a 362-94 (.794) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded all 11 opponents this season, posting a +11.5 margin, including averaging 12.5 offensive rebounds per game.
3. MSU's Two-Man Center Tandem
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne combine to give Michigan State a steady inside presence. Although they will occasionally take the floor together, at least one of them is usually in the game. Combined they average 15.9 ppg and 15.2 rpg, with both ranking among the top four in the Big Ten in rebounding. Both of them are also shooting over 54 percent from the field.
4. Spartan Double-Doubles
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne leads the way with three (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee), while Branden Dawson (Connecticut), Derrick Nix (Tuskegee) and Denzel Valentine (Oakland) each have one.
5. There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (15.5 ppg - 7th Big Ten) and assists (4.4 apg - 5th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in eight of 11 games, and scoring 20 or more points three times. One area where Appling has improved over last season is his outside shooting, as he is shooting .389 (14-of-36) from 3-point range, compared to .250 (24-of-96) in 2011-12. In addition, he's establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. 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. BOWLING GREEN NOTES
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Bowling Green, 10-3, including a 2-1 advantage at games played in Bowling Green. Tom Izzo is 3-0 in his career as head coach against the Falcons, although this will be the first meeting outside the state of Michigan.
Louis Orr (Syracuse, '80) is 181-166 in his 12th season as a collegiate head coach, including 81-86 in his sixth 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. Orr is 0-3 in his career against MSU, including 0-2 against Bowling Green.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Bowling Green, 74-60, on Dec. 17, 2011. The first half was a back-and-forth affair, featuring five ties and eight lead changes. Derrick Nix hit two free throws right before the half to give the Spartans a 35-33 edge at the break. The Falcons stayed in the game by turning 13 offensive rebounds into a 16-4 edge in second-chance points. Bowling Green tied the game with the first basket of the second half. MSU responded with a 20-3 run to take a commanding 55-38 lead. During the run, Nix, Branden Dawson and Brandon Wood each scored six points. In the second half, MSU held an 11-0 advantage in second-chance points. Wood led MSU with 16 points, while Nix added 14. Jehvon Clarke scored 14 points to pace the Falcons. Jordan Crawford scored 10 first-half points, but added just one point in the second on 0-of-3 shooting from the field.
The Last Meeting In Bowling Green
Bowling Green defeated No. 5 Michigan State, 98-85, on Dec. 1, 1990, in Bowling Green. Clinton Vanable scored 24 points and Joe Moore added 23 for the Falcons, while Steve Smith led all scorers with 29 points for the Spartans. BGSU shot 49 percent from the field, and out-rebounded MSU, 40-35.
Bowling Green is 16-5 at home all-time in the Stroh Center, including 4-1 this season ... Jordon Crawford (16.3 ppg) and A'uston Calhoun (16.1 ppg) combine to average 52.1 percent of the Falcons' points ... Bowling Green averages just 11.7 turnovers per contest ... Calhoun needs two points to become the 40th player in Falcon history to score 1,000 points in his career ... Bowling Green has a -0.1 rebound margin on the season, but is 4-0 when out-rebounding its opponent ... BGSU has held back-to-back opponents to 42 points or less for the first time since 1949.
GM. 11 RECAP MICHIGAN STATE 92 - TUSKEGEE 56
Playing in Jenison Field House for the first time since 1989, Michigan State used a dominating second half to defeat Tuskegee, 92-56. In front of a capacity crowd, including four original Tuskegee Airmen, the Spartans got off to a quick start, leading 19-6 with 12:43 left in the first half. But MSU then went over five minutes without a point, as the Golden Tigers pulled back into the game at 19-15. Tuskegee pulled within two points late in the stanza, as MSU led 33-26 at the half. The Spartans led by just five points (39-34) with 17:55 left in the contest before exploding on a 14-1 run to put the game away over the next four and a half minutes.
MSU VS. TUSKEGEE NOTES
* Michigan State played a game in Jenison Field House for the first time since 1989.
* MSU out-rebounded Tuskegee, 63-35, as its +28 margin was its greatest of the season.
* The Spartans grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, holding an 18-5 edge in second-chance points.
* MSU scored a season-high 92 points, including 59 in the second half.
* MSU shot a season-best 84.4 percent from the foul line.
* Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne posted double-doubles in the same game for the first time ever. For Nix, it was the second of his career and the first since his Spartan debut. For Payne, it was his third in the last four games, and fourth of his career.
* Keith Appling tied his career high with 25 points.
* Matt Costello tallied season highs in points (6) and rebounds (7) in just seven minutes.
* MSU held its fourth straight opponent under 36 percent shooting, as Tuskegee shot just 29.2 percent, including 27.3 percent from 3-point range.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
Too Many Turnovers
One early area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 15.6 per game, including four games with 19 or more. MSU's primary ballhandler, Keith Appling, is averaging just 2.2 per contest, posting a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
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 20 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 11 times. Through 11 games, MSU is shooting .481 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten.
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris has scored in double figures in all eight games in which he's played more than one minute, and he was just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games. He suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the game against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. He ranks second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per contest, and if you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging 14.3 ppg. He is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19 and Dec. 10. On the season, he's shooting .342 (13-38) from 3-point range, including .387 (12-of-31) over his last eight games.
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +13.2 (36.2-22.7), out-scoring nine of its 11 opponents. At times, MSU has dominated the paint, including out-scoring Texas Southern (46-10), Oakland (40-16), Miami (30-14), Nicholls State (52-20), and Tuskegee (42-26).
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used four different starting lineups this year, as the Spartans work with different combinations, although he's used the same starting lineup for the last four contests. Nine players are averaging more than 12 minutes per game, and 11 are averaging five 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, the game at Miami was the first game in which all 11 scholarship players saw action, and even then, Trice and Harris were just coming off injuries.
Trice Is Back
Travis Trice played 12 minutes at Miami, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range. It was the first action for the reserve point guard since suffering a concussion and broken nose in the second half of MSU's season-opener against Connecticut in Germany. In his five games back, he's averaging 8.2 points, while shooting .524 (11-of-21) from 3-point range. His return will take some of the ball-handling duties off Keith Appling's shoulders. In the five games that Trice missed, Appling was forced to play 36.4 minutes per contest.
On March 4, 2012, Branden Dawson suffered a season-ending torn left ACL. With no swelling, he was able to have surgery two days later, putting him ahead of schedule from the beginning. The quick healing continued through the summer, and Dawson was a full participant when practice opened in mid-October. He currently ranks third on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg), third in rebounding (5.8 rpg), and second in minutes played (26.3 mpg), while ranking eighth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.581)despite being just over nine months removed from surgery. Still, it's tough to make up for missing the entire summer both in terms of conditioning and skill development.
A look at the Big Ten stats shows that junior center Adreian Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten. Payne ranks second in the conference in rebounding (7.7 rpg), third in field-goal percentage (.610) and fourth in blocks (1.5 bpg). He also ranks fourth on the Spartans in scoring at 8.5 points per contest. The main thing limiting Payne's production is foul trouble, as he's played 20 minutes or more in just five games. In five games, Payne picked up two first-half fouls, limiting his playing time. He's recorded three double-doubles this season, each one of them in 22 minutes or less.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 7.5 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. He has three double-figure rebounding games this season, including recording his second career double-double vs. Tuskegee with 11 points and 13 rebounds. It was his first double-double since his Spartan debut.
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded 22 steals through the first 11 games of the season (2.0 spg), ranking tied for fourth in 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.
Appling Takes Over
In three of Michigan State's 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 (12.7 ppg), and fourth in minutes (24.4 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.8 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.4 rpg) and fifth in minutes (23.4 mpg). And although Matt Costello was limited early in the season by a bad tailbone bruise, he's improved as of late, recording six points and seven rebounds in seven minutes against Tuskegee.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 149-101, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +4.3 points per game (13.5-9.2). The Spartans are averaging 12.5 offensive boards per game. MSU has 138 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 213 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .393.
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 (152), Kentucky (147), Duke (145) and Connecticut (138). (Through Dec. 16)
Frequent Flier Miles
With trips to Ramstein Air Base (vs. Connecticut), Atlanta (vs. Kansas) and Miami, Michigan State traveled 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 makes a strong claim as the toughest conference in college basketball. Michigan (No. 2), Indiana (No. 6), Ohio State (No. 7), Illinois (No. 10), Minnesota (No. 13), and Michigan State (No. 20) are all ranked in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 (Dec. 17). To make matters more difficult for MSU, the Spartans will play a combined nine games against those five 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 84 career blocks. Paul Davis is eighth on the career list with 87 blocks. Earlier this season, Payne equaled 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.
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").
THE BOOK ON Tom Izzo
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 421-171 (.711), 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 (.724), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Izzo (.711) 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.