Dec. 21, 2011
The Opening Tip
Michigan State wraps up non-conference play as it welcomes Lehigh to Breslin Center. The Spartans are looking for their 11th non-conference win, the most by a MSU team since 2007-08. MSU is a perfect 8-0 at home this season. This will be the third game in six days for the Spartans, who will next have a couple days off for the holidays before opening Big Ten play in less than a week vs. Indiana.
The Starting Five
1. Winning Streak
Michigan State is riding a 10-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 78.6 points and shooting .504 from the field, while holding opponents to 55.0 points on .354 shooting.
2. Non-Conference Success
A win over Lehigh would give MSU an 11-2 record to close the non-conference portion of the schedule. The last time the Spartans recorded 11 non-conference victories was 2007-08, when they posted a 12-1 non-conference mark.
3. Wood Heating Up
Brandon Wood has hit his stride in the last two games. Not only is the senior transfer from Valparaiso averaging 16.0 points, he's adding 2.0 assists and 0.0 turnovers, while shooting .786 from the field (11-of-14), including .778 from 3-point range (7-of-9). He scored in double figures in just one of his first six games this season, but has done it four times in the last six contests, including a season-high 20 points vs. Nebraska Omaha.
4. Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State ranks 17th in the nation in assists with 7.6 assists per game (through Dec. 18). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 63.6 percent of their baskets. Over the last five games, the Spartans are averaging 23.8 assists and have recorded an assist on 72.1 percent of their baskets. Individually, Keith Appling is averaging 5.2 assists and Draymond Green is averaging 4.6 assists in the last five contests.
5. 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 six games, however, MSU has shown dramatic improvement, hitting .533 from the field and .457 from 3-point range. The Spartans have shot over 50 percent in four of the last five games, including two contests better than 61 percent.
MSU vs. Lehigh Notes
This is the first ever meeting between Michigan State and Lehigh. The Spartans are 8-3 all-time against current members of the Patriot League, including 5-1 vs. Colgate, 1-1 vs. Holy Cross, 1-0 vs. Bucknell, 1-0 vs. Army and 0-1 vs. Navy.
Brett Reed (Eckerd College, '95) is 75-58 in his fifth season as a collegiate head coach, all at Lehigh. Prior to becoming head coach, Reed was an assistant for five seasons at Lehigh. Before joining the Mountain Hawk program, Reed was the top assistant for two seasons at High Point. In 2009-10, he led Lehigh to its second Patriot League Tournament Championship, its first outright regular-season league title and the most wins in school history (22).
Mountain Hawk Notes
Holden Greiner (Traverse City), Kevin McCarthy (St. Clair Shores) and head coach Breet Reed (Waterford) are all Michigan natives ... Lehigh is 11-36 all-time against the Big Ten, with all 11 wins coming against Penn State (11-30) ... Lehigh's leading scorer C.J. McCollum participated in the USA Basketball World University Games Training Camp ... Although just a junior, McCollum ranks eighth in Lehigh career scoring and 18th in Patriot League history with 1,533 points ... According to the most recent NCAA statistics (Dec. 19), Lehigh ranks fifth in the nation in free-throw percentage (.786).
Gm. 12 Recap
Michigan St. 89 - UMKC 54
The game was over almost as soon as it started as MSU scored 16 of the game's first 18 points. UMKC narrowed the deficit to 10 points at 21-11, but a 14-3 run pushed the Spartan lead out to 35-14 and MSU never led by less than 15 after that. Leading 40-20 at the half, MSU opened the second half on a 16-3 run, taking a commanding 33-point lead. The lead would swell to as many as 43 points in the game's final moments.
MSU vs. UMKC Notes
* MSU shot a season-best .614 (35-57) from the field and a season-best .571 (8-14)from 3-point range.
* Branden Dawson scored a season-high 16 points, hitting 8-of-12 shots.
* Keith Appling dished out a career-best eight assists and recorded a career-high three steals.
* MSU doubled UMKC's output in the paint, 48-24.
* Brandon Wood had a perfect game, not missing a shot (6-6 FG, 4-4 3FG) and not committing a turnover, adding three steals and two rebounds.
* Draymond Green recorded his sixth double-double of the season (10 pts., 11 reb.).
* MSU, led primarily by Keith Appling, held Reggie Chamberlain to two points on 1-of-8 shooting. Chamberlain entered the game averaging 19.0 ppg and having scored 20 or more points in six of his previous seven games.
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 57.6 points (ranking 31st in the nation through Dec. 18) on .368 shooting (16th in nation), including .292 from 3-point range (50th in nation). MSU also ranks 51st 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 10-game win streak, the Spartans are allowing just 55.0 points on .354 shooting, including .271 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 11 of 12 opponents by a +10.2 margin, including four by 15 or more, leading the Big Ten and ranking seventh in the nation (through Dec. 18). 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 427 of 556 opponents (.768), posting a 337-90 (.789) mark in those games.
Consistent Starting Lineup
Michigan State has used the same starting lineup (Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Brandon Wood) for 11 of its 12 games. The only change came against Eastern Michigan when Derrick Nix started in place of Payne.
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 .292 from behind the arc. MSU has held five of 12 opponents to a .250 or lower shooting percentage from behind the arc. That happened just four times all of last season.
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 4.0 assists in his last 10 games with a 2.2-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 5.2 assists in the last five games, including a career-best 8 vs. UMKC.
Three-Headed Scoring Attack
Three Spartans have emerged as Michigan State's leading scorers, as Draymond Green (15.4 ppg), Keith Appling (10.5 ppg) and Brandon Wood (10.5 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-17.6, Wood-12.0, Appling-10.4). As a group, they outscored Florida State, 56-49.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents 168-101 in second chance points for the season. That's an average of +5.6 per game (14.0-8.4). The Spartans are averaging 13.3 offensive rebounds per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. MSU has 159 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 254 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .385, ranking second in the conference.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Through the first 12 games of the season, Derrick Nix is averaging 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 17.6 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 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in the last five 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 five contests.
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 six games, however, the Spartans have shown signs of breaking out of their slump, connecting on .457 of their shots (43-94) from behind the arc.
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 (3.2 rpg), Brandon Wood (2.9 rpg) and Branden Dawson (4.4 rpg) averages 10.5 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 40.9 percent of the scoring and 43.0 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 820 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks eighth in MSU history, 15 behind Andre Hutson (835) 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 (9.8 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 (twice), Brandon Wood (twice), Austin Thornton and Travis Trice 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. MSU is committing 14.8 per game (although just 12.5 in the last six games), while forcing 15.7 by its opponents. The Spartans are averaging 16.3 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 12.6 points by opponents off MSU turnovers. The Spartans are 6-0 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 six double-doubles in the season's first 12 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 37.0-22.5, out-scoring 10 of its 12 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 .690 over the last seven games. For the season, MSU is shooting .662 from the foul line, averaging 22.4 attempts per game.
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.
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 1,101 points, he ranks 36th in MSU history, needing nine to move past Al Ferrari (1,109 points) and 46 to move past Pete Gent (1,146 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. 19), 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 12 games for MSU, ranking tied for second on the team in scoring at 10.5 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 (13/14), Indiana (17/18), Michigan (20/19) and Illinois (25/24). MSU is ranked No. 19 by the AP and No. 20 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 393-163 (.707), 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 (.707). 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.