Dec. 18, 2011
The Opening Tip
The Spartans host UMKC after a quick turnaround as MSU defeated Bowling Green on Saturday night. MSU enters the contest with a nine-game winning streak, while the Kangaroos are also hot, having won six of their last seven games. Michigan State is a perfect 7-0 at home this season, as the Spartans have just two non-conference games remaining on the schedule.
The Starting Five
1. Winning Streak
Michigan State is riding a nine-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. The last time MSU won more than 10 straight was an 11-game streak during the 2008-09 season. During the current streak, MSU is averaging 77.4 points and shooting .492 from the field, while holding opponents to 55.1 points on .352 shooting.
2. Consistent Starting Lineup
Michigan State has used the same starting lineup (Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Brandon Wood) for 10 of its 11 games. The only change came against Eastern Michigan when Derrick Nix started in place of Payne.
3. Defending The Three
Last season, Michigan State ranked eighth in the Big Ten, allowing teams to shoot .364 from 3-point range. This year, the Spartans rank second in the conference, allowing opponents to shoot just .293 from behind the arc. MSU has held five of 11 opponents to a .250 or lower shooting percentage from behind the arc. That happened just four times all of last season.
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 five games, however, MSU has shown dramatic improvement, hitting .517 from the field and .438 from 3-point range.
5. What A Difference A Year Makes
Through the first 11 games of the season, Derrick Nix is averaging 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 18.2 minutes per contest. That's a contrast to last season when Nix averaged just 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds for the season. Nix has even elevated his play in the last few weeks, averaging 11.3 points in the last four games. In the first 73 games of his career, Nix scored in double figures just three times, the same number of times he's done it in the last four contests.
MSU vs. UMKC Notes
This is the first-ever meeting between Michigan State and UMKC. MSU is 19-0 all-time against current members of the Summit League, including 10-0 vs. Oakland, 6-0 vs. IPFW, 2-0 vs. Western Illinois and 1-0 vs. South Dakota.
Matt Brown (Shippensburg, '94) is 49-82 in his fifth season as a collegiate head coach, all at UMKC. Last season was Brown's best as head coach, guiding the Kangaroos to a 16-14 overall record, including 9-9 in Summit League play. Prior to his arrival at UMKC, he spent 10 years as an assistant coach, making seven postseason appearances, including three NCAA Tournament trips, while at Richmond and West Virginia.
UMKC is facing its second Big Ten opponent of the season, having lost at Wisconsin (77-31) earlier this season ... The Kangaroos are led in scoring by senior guard Reggie Chamberlain (19.0 ppg) who has scored in double figures in seven straight games, including six with 20 or more points ... UMKC has won six of its last seven ... The Kangaroos are shooting .411 from 3-point range in the last seven games, after shooting .359 during the first five games
Gm. 11 Recap
Michigan State 74 - Bowling Green 60
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, featuring five ties and eight lead changes. The Spartans threatened to break free a few times, but Bowling Green always maintained contact. 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.
MSU vs. Bowling Green Notes
* MSU was out-rebounded 25-16 in the first half, but out-rebounded Bowling Green, 23-12, in the second.
* Brandon Wood became the sixth different Spartan to lead the team in scoring with his team-high 16 points.
* Draymond Green moved into ninth place in career rebounds (809), as his 12-point, 10-rebound effort was his fifth double-double of the season.
* Derrick Nix scored a career-high 14 points.
* Branden Dawson equaled his season-high with 13 points.
* BGSU's Jordon Crawford led all scorers with 10 first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, adding three assists and just one turnover. In the second half, MSU's defense held him to one point on 0-of-3 shooting and two turnovers.
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 57.9 points (ranking 30th in the nation through Dec. 11) on .367 shooting (18th in nation), including .293 from 3-point range (64th in nation). MSU also ranks 41st in the nation in steals (8.5 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 second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. During MSU's nine-game win streak, the Spartans are allowing just 55.1 points on .352 shooting, including .270 from 3-point range.
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 10 of 11 opponents by a +10.2 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 426 of 555 opponents (.768), posting a 336-90 (.789) mark in those games.
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 five games, however, the Spartans have shown signs of breaking out of their slump, connecting on .438 of their shots (35-80) from behind the arc.
Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State ranks 13th in the nation in assists with 16.9 assists per game (through Dec. 11). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 62.6 percent of their baskets.
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.
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 3.6 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). He's averaging 4.5 assists in the last four games.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents 156-93 in second chance points for the season. That's an average of +5.7 per game (14.2-8.5). The Spartans are averaging 13.6 offensive rebounds per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. MSU has 150 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 235 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .390, ranking second in the conference.
Three-Headed Scoring Attack
Three Spartans have emerged as Michigan State's leading scorers, as Draymond Green (15.9 ppg), Keith Appling (10.8 ppg) and Brandon Wood (10.0 ppg) are all averaging double figures. It's been more pronounced over the last six games as the trio is averaging a combined 41.1 points (Green-18.8, Appling-11.3, Wood-11.0). 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 (3.3 rpg), Brandon Wood (3.0 rpg) and Branden Dawson (4.5 rpg) averages 10.8 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 39.1 percent of the scoring and 42.8 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 809 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks 10th in MSU history, five behind Bill Kilgore (814) in eighth 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. This season, Green leads the Big Ten in rebounding.
Six 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, Travis Trice and Brandon Wood have each paced MSU. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne 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 11 games. MSU is committing 15.2 per game (although just 13.0 in the last five games), while forcing 16.0 by its opponents. The Spartans are averaging 16.2 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 12.8 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 (1-0 when turnovers are equal).
Four different Spartans have recorded a double-double this season. Draymond Green leads the way with five double-doubles in the season's first 11 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 36.0-22.4, out-scoring nine of its 11 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 .724 over the last six games. For the season, MSU is shooting .676 from the foul line, averaging 22.5 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 1,091 points, he ranks 37th in MSU history, needing nine to move past Bill Kilgore (1,099 points) and 19 to move past Al Ferrari (1,109 points).
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. 17), 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 11 games for MSU, ranking third on the team in scoring at 10.0 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 392-163 (.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.