Dec. 27, 2011
The Opening Tip
Michigan State opens its 62nd season of Big Ten basketball as it hosts Indiana at Breslin Center. The Spartans and Hoosiers are the two hottest teams in the conference, as Indiana is a perfect 12-0 and MSU has won 11 straight games. This is the first time MSU has opened conference play at home against the Hoosiers since Tom Izzo's first conference game as head coach.
The Starting Five
1. Winning Streak
Michigan State enters Big Ten play riding a 11-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 an 11-game streak during the 2008-09 season. The last time MSU had a win streak longer than 11 games was when it opened the 2000-01 season with 12 straight victories. During the current streak, MSU is averaging 79.6 points and shooting .494 from the field, while holding opponents to 57.4 points on .361 shooting. Nine of the 11 victories have been by double figures.
2. Big Ten Openers
In its 61 seasons playing basketball in the Big Ten Conference, Michigan State has compiled a 28-33 record in Big Ten openers, including a 16-9 record at home. Tom Izzo is 10-6 in Big Ten openers, including 6-0 at home. Opening at home is somewhat of a recent rarity for the Spartans, as this is just the fourth time in the last 11 seasons that MSU has started league play in East Lansing. This is the first time that Michigan State has opened league play against Indiana since Jan. 2, 1997, and the first time the Spartans have opened at home against the Hoosiers since Jan. 4, 1996, a 65-60 MSU victory in Coach Izzo's first ever Big Ten game.
3. Big Ten Home Openers
Over the past 61 seasons, Michigan State has posted a 42-19 mark in Big Ten home openers. Tom Izzo is 14-2 in Big Ten home openers, including winning the last nine.
4. Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 12 Big Ten Championships, including two of the last three, since joining the league prior to the 1950-51 season. The Spartans' first ever league game was at Northwestern, where MSU claimed a 67-62 victory on Jan. 6, 1951. All-time, MSU is 541-445 (.549) in league play, including 183-85 (.683) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 183 conference wins. Izzo has guided MSU to six of its 12 league crowns. Since Izzo's first season (1995-96), MSU has a Big Ten-best record of 183-85, 15 games better than second place Wisconsin (168-100).
5. Green Enjoys Success Vs. Hoosiers
Through four games, Draymond Green is averaging 12.0 and 7.5 rebounds against the Hoosiers. His first career double-double was a 15-point, 12-board effort as a freshman, hitting 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line. As a sophomore, he scored 14 points, hitting all five field-goal attempts. Last season, he posted a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double. The only game in which he struggled was a 0-point, 0-rebound game at Bloomington as a freshman.
MSU vs. Indiana Notes
Indiana leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 64-47, although MSU owns a 34-21 advantage in East Lansing, including 16 straight wins in the Breslin Center. Tom Izzo is 17-10 in his career against Indiana. MSU's current five-game winning streak in the series is an all-time best.
Tom Crean (Central Michigan, '89) is 230-162 in his 13th season as a Division I head coach, including 40-66 in his fourth season at Indiana. Prior to his arrival in Bloomington, Crean spent nine seasons as head coach at Marquette. In 2002-03, he guided Marquette to a 27-6 record, a Conference USA regular-season championship and a Final Four appearance. Prior to becoming the head coach at Marquette, Crean was an assistant for four years (1995-99) under Coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State. While Crean was at MSU under Izzo, the Spartans went 88-41, won two Big Ten regular-season titles and appeared in the 1999 Final Four. Before working for Coach Izzo, Crean coached one season at Pittsburgh (1994-95) and four seasons at Western Kentucky (1990-94) as an assistant. Crean's first assistant position came at MSU in 1989-90, when he worked under Jud Heathcote as the Spartans won the Big Ten Championship and advanced to the Sweet 16.
The Last Meeting
Michigan State defeated Indiana, 84-83, in overtime on Jan. 30, 2011, in East Lansing. After leading by as many as 12 points, the Hoosiers led 43-40 at the half, thanks to 15 first-half points from Christian Watford and a 19-13 advantage on the glass. The Spartans stayed in the game due to a 14-4 edge in points off turnovers. At the 12:59 mark of the second half, IU held a 60-52 lead. MSU responded with an 11-0 run, only to watch IU answer with a 13-4 surge to take a 73-67 lead with 4:36 left. Leading 78-75 with 42 seconds left, IU's Jeremiah Rivers went to the foul line for a 1-and-1. He missed the front end and Kalin Lucas drove for a layup, cutting the deficit to one. Rivers was fouled again with 19 seconds left, making one-of-two. In MSU's possession, Draymond Green was fouled with 2.9 seconds remaining and calmly knocked down both foul shots to send the game into overtime. Both teams struggled to score in overtime, as MSU drew first blood with a Green free throw. Will Sheehey gave IU an 81-80 lead with 1:42 left, but two Lucas free throws put MSU back on top with 1:20 left. After an IU bucket, Green scored the game's final points on a layup with 27 seconds left. Jordan Hulls missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving MSU an 84-83 win. Lucas led all scorers with 26 points, while Draymond Green posted a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Watford finished with 21 points for IU.
Indiana leads the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage (.459) and ranks fifth in field-goal percentage (.514) ... Freshman Cody Zeller has been named Big Ten Freshman of the week four times ... This is just the fourth time in school history and first time since 1975-76 that IU has opened the season with a 12-0 record ... Five different Hoosiers have scored 20 or more points in a game this season.
Gm. 13 Recap
Michigan St. 90 - Lehigh 81
Michigan State closed out non-conference play with a hard-fought victory over Lehigh. MSU started strong, grabbing an early 11-5 lead. Lehigh responded with an 11-0 run and the Spartans knew they were in for a fight. The game went back and forth for the rest of the half, with neither team leading by more than three points after that. Keith Appling hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left in the half to give MSU a 35-33 lead, only to watch Lehigh score five points in the final seconds. C.J. McCollum scored a layup and was fouled on the play. The MSU bench was hit with a technical and McCollum connected on three free throws to give Lehigh a 38-35 lead at the break. MSU shot just 34.3 percent in the first half, but used 14 offensive rebounds for a 9-0 edge in second-chance points.
The game was tied at 41 early in the second half, when Lehigh's Gabe Knutson missed a layup. The Lehigh bench received a technical, believing Knutson was fouled. MSU hit the two technicals and got two more free throws on the possession for a four-point trip that keyed a 19-6 run to take a commanding 60-47 advantage. MSU pushed its lead up to 16 points, but Lehigh wouldn't go away, cutting the lead to six points in the final minute. The Spartans survived by hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the game's final 1:17. Appling finished with a team-best 19 points, including 12-of-12 at the foul line. MSU out-rebounded Lehigh, 50-31, including grabbing 23 offensive boards.
MSU vs. Lehigh Notes
* MSU finished the non-conference schedule with an 11-2 mark, good for the most number of non-conference wins since a 12-1 mark in 2007-08.
* MSU won for the first time all season when trailing at the half (1-2 on the year).
* MSU won for the first time all season when being out-shot by its opponent (1-1 on the year).
* MSU grabbed more offensive rebounds (23) than Lehigh had defensive boards (20).
* Lehigh's 81 points were the most MSU has allowed in a win since an 84-83 overtime win over Indiana on Jan. 30, 2011, and the most allowed in a regulation win since an 85-83 win over Maryland in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The previous high this season was 69 points scored by Central Connecticut.
* Keith Appling's 12-of-12 performance was just the ninth time in school history a Spartan hit 1.000 percent from the foul line with 12 or more attempts.
* One game after shooting .500 (11-22) from the foul line, the Spartans hit .821(32-39) of their foul shots.
* Draymond Green blocked a career-high six shots, equaling the second-best effort in school history, and moving into a tie for third on the MSU career list with 97.
MSU Basketball Notes
Success At Breslin
Michigan State is 303-44 (.873) all-time at Breslin Center since it opened in 1989, including 155-33 (.824) in Big Ten play. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are 229-29 (.888) at Breslin, including a 114-20 (.851) conference record.
Strong Spartan Defense
Michigan State's defensive effort has been impressive in the first two months of the season. The Spartans are allowing just 59.4 points (ranking 31st in the nation through Dec. 18) on .373 shooting (16th in nation), including .297 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 11-game win streak, the Spartans are allowing just 57.4 points on .361 shooting, including .279 from 3-point range.
Coming Of Age
It took some time, but freshman Branden Dawson is showing signs of the game that earned him McDonald's All-America honors last season. He's been MSU's leading scorer over the last three games, averaging 14.3 points, including a season-high 16 vs. UMKC, shooting .655 from the field and ranking second on the team with 5.3 boards per contest. On the season, Dawson is averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, ranking fourth in scoring and third in rebounding. He scored in double figures in 3 of the season's first 10 games, but has scored 13 or more in each of the last three.
Wood Heating Up
Brandon Wood has hit his stride in the last three games. Not only is the senior transfer from Valparaiso averaging 13.3 points, he's adding 1.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.0 turnovers, while shooting .652 from the field (15-of-23), including .636 from 3-point range (7-of-11). He scored in double figures in just one of his first six games this season, but has done it four times in the last seven contests, including a season-high 20 points vs. Nebraska Omaha.
Spartans From Hoosier State
Three players on the Michigan State roster are from the Hoosier state. Senior Brandon Wood is from Kokomo, Ind., and played two seasons at Valparaiso. Red-shirt freshman Russell Byrd earned 2010 second-team all-state honors becoming the first ever Indiana All-Star from Blackhawk Christian High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. Freshman Brandon Dawson was an all-state selection and McDonald's All-American from Gary's Lew Wallace High School. The Indiana pipeline will continue next season as the Spartans welcome Gary Harris from Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) to the squad. Harris is ranked No. 10 on the ESPNU Top 100 list.
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 12 of 13 opponents by a +10.8 margin, including five 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 428 of 557 opponents (.768), posting a 338-90 (.790) mark in those games.
Lending A Helping Hand
Michigan State ranks 17th in the nation in assists with 17.5 assists per game (NCAA ranking through Dec. 18). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 63.2 percent of their baskets. Over the last six games, the Spartans are averaging 23.8 assists and have recorded an assist on 70.3 percent of their baskets. Individually, Keith Appling is averaging 5.0 assists and Draymond Green is averaging 4.3 assists in the last six contests.
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 seven games, however, MSU has shown dramatic improvement, hitting .512 from the field and .448 from 3-point range. The Spartans have shot over 50 percent in four of the last six games, including two contests better than 61 percent.
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 13 games. The only changes came against Eastern Michigan when Derrick Nix started in place of Payne, and vs. Lehigh when Austin Thornton started in place of Green.
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 .297 from behind the arc. MSU has held five of 13 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 11 games with a 2.1-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 5.0 assists in the last six 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 (15.5 ppg), Keith Appling (11.2 ppg) and Brandon Wood (10.3 ppg) are all averaging double figures. It's been more pronounced over the last seven games as the trio is averaging a combined 41.1 points (Green-17.9, Wood-11.9, Appling-11.6). As a group, they outscored Florida State, 56-49.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents 189-109 in second chance points for the season. That's an average of +6.1 per game (14.5-8.4). The Spartans are averaging 14.0 offensive rebounds per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. MSU has 182 offensive rebounds on the year compared to 274 defensive rebounds for its opponents, good for an offensive rebound percentage of .399, ranking second in the conference. The Spartans have grabbed 20 or more offensive rebounds three times this season.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Through the first 13 games of the season, Derrick Nix is averaging 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 17.5 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 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in the last six 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 six 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 seven games, however, the Spartans have shown signs of breaking out of their slump, connecting on .448 of their shots (47-105) 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 (3.5 rpg), Brandon Wood (2.8 rpg) and Branden Dawson (4.7 rpg) averages 11.0 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 40.3 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 830 career rebounds, Draymond Green ranks eighth in MSU history, five behind Andre Hutson (835) in seventh 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 13 games of the season. Draymond Green (five times), Keith Appling (three times), 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 14.5 per game (although just 12.4 in the last seven games), while forcing 15.5 by its opponents. The Spartans are averaging 16.5 points per game off opponent turnovers, compared to 12.6 points by opponents off MSU turnovers. The Spartans are 7-0 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 seven double-doubles in the season's first 13 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 37.4-22.9, out-scoring 11 of its 13 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 .717 over the last eight games. For the season, MSU is shooting .682 from the foul line, averaging 23.7 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 1,117 points, he ranks 35th in MSU history, needing 30 to move past Pete Gent (1,146 points).
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season (including 2011-12 - through Dec. 26), 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 13 games for MSU, ranking third on the team in scoring at 10.3 ppg.
In The Rankings
Six 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 (11/11), Indiana (13/15) and Michigan (18/16). MSU is ranked No. 16 by the AP and No. 17 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 394-163 (.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 (.731), 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.