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Men's Basketball Returns To Action Against UNC Asheville

Dec. 28, 2004


#20/23 Michigan State (7-2)
vs. UNC Asheville (3-6)

Dec. 29, 2004 7 p.m. EST East Lansing, Mich. Breslin Center (14,759)

Radio: Spartan Sports Network - Will Tieman (Play by Play), Gus Ganakas (Color). Flagship - WJIM (97.5 FM)

TV: None

The Opening Tip

Michigan State hosts UNC Asheville in the Spartans' final game of the 2004 calendar year. This game also marks the final tune-up before the start of the Big Ten season one week later. MSU is 5-0 at home this season and is facing an UNCA squad that is 0-5 on the road. This is the fourth meeting between the Spartans and Bulldogs since the 1998-99 season.

Michigan State Game Notes
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The Starting Five

Goodbye 2004 - Michigan State enters the UNCA game with a 20-9 mark in 2004. The Spartans closed out the 2003-04 season with a 13-7 mark after the first of the year.

He Can Pass, Too - In addition to all of his scoring and long-range shooting, Chris Hill is positioned to finish his career among the school's all-time leaders in assists. He currently stands ninth in MSU history with 348 career assists, one behind 8th-place Kevin Smith. Hill dished out a season-best eight assists against Stanford.

Torbert Approaches 1,000 - With 979 career points, Kelvin Torbert needs just 21 points to become the 32nd player in Michigan State history to score 1,000 in his career. This season, he is averaging a career-best 10.9 points. Teammate Chris Hill (1,350 points) already has more than 1,000 career points, while Alan Anderson (867) and Paul Davis (865) are also likely to reach 1,000 points this year.

The Turnover Story - Taking care of the basketball continues to be a point of emphasis for the Spartans. Michigan State is 6-0 this season when committing fewer turnovers than its opponents, but just 1-2 when committing an equal number or more than the opposition. On the season, MSU is averaging 14.7 turnovers per game. In the last three games, the Spartans are averaging 12.0 turnovers per game, including just 5.0 in the second half.

Getting To The Charity Stripe - Michigan State has done a good job getting to the foul line this season, averaging 22.1 attempts per game. For the season, the Spartans have made nearly as many free throws (157) as their opponents have attempted (158). As a team, MSU is shooting 78.9 percent from the foul line, including seven Spartans who are shooting better than 80 percent. Among players with at least 10 attempts, Shannon Brown paces the way, connecting on 90.9 percent of his attempts (30-of-33). In fact, Brown, Kelvin Torbert (87.5 percent) and Alan Anderson (84.2 percent) rank first, third and fifth in the Big Ten in percentage.

Game 9 Notes - MSU 76 - UCLA 64 - Dec. 21, 2004

* For the first time this season, just two Spartans scored in double figures, although six players scored eight points or more.

* UCLA out-rebounded MSU, 38-33, marking the first Spartan game this season in which the team that won the battle of the boards did not win the game.

* Trailing 25-23 with 8:46 left in the first half, MSU went on a 14-1 run to take the lead for good.

* Freshman Drew Neitzel had his best game as a Spartan, scoring eight points on 3-of-3 shooting and dishing out two assists.

* Matt Trannon grabbed a career-best six rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

* Michigan State attempted 17 free throws in the first half, but just three in the second half.

UNC Asheville Notes

Coach Biedenbach - Eddie Biedenbach (North Carolina State, '68) is 114-127 in his ninth year at UNC Asheville. Overall, he is 143-178 in 12 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He served as head coach at Davidson from 1978-81. He has led UNCA to three Big South Conference regular-season titles and an appearance in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

Bulldog Bits - Senior forward Bryan McCullough leads the Bulldogs in scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg) despite coming off the bench in all nine contests ... UNC Asheville is 0-5 on the road this season ... The Bulldogs play at Michigan on Dec. 31.

Series History - Michigan State leads the all-time series with UNC Asheville, 3-0. All three games have been played in the Breslin Center. Most recently, MSU defeated UNCA, 66-52, in the 2002-03 season opener.

MSU Basketball Notes

Good To Be Back Home - Michigan State has been extremely productive offensively in its four home games. The Spartans are averaging 89.8 points, shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range at the Breslin Center.

Hitting The Boards - Michigan State is doing a much better job rebounding the basketball this season than it did last year. The Spartans are out-rebounding their opponents by a +7.2 margin. They are also hitting the offensive glass, grabbing 12.9 offensive boards per game. MSU leads the conference in rebounding margin and ranks second in offensive rebounds. Rebounding is also a good indicator of the team's success. MSU is 6-0 when it out-rebounds its opponent, 1-2 when it is out-rebounded.

Hill's Ratio - Chris Hill currently owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.64-to-1. That number ranks first among Spartan point guards of the last 20 years, ahead of solid point guards like Mateen Cleaves (1.9 in his last three years); Mark Montgomery (2.3 as a junior), Scott Skiles (2.0 as a senior) and Eric Snow (2.5 as a junior and senior).

Off The Gridiron, Onto The Hardwood - Matt Trannon is back with the basketball team after playing football in the fall. This year, he ranked second on the team in receptions (36) and yards (405), while also scoring two touchdowns in 11 games. He returned to practice on Monday, Dec. 13. He has appeared in two games this season, scoring two points and grabbing six rebounds vs. UCLA. Last season, he averaged 6.9 minutes in 17 games, recording 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds. He scored a season-best five points against Indiana and grabbed four rebounds in four contests.

Using The Bench - Michigan State's bench has outscored its opponent's bench in seven out of nine games. In fact, Spartan subs have scored 97 more points (10.8 per game). In four of the nine games, MSU's bench advantage has been greater than 10 points, including three of 19 or more.

Balanced Scoring - Michigan State's impressive offensive performance has been the result of a team effort. Six Spartans are averaging in double figures, led by Maurice Ager at 14.3 ppg. By comparison, just three Spartans averaged in double figures last year, after Chris Hill was the only player to do so in 2002-03.

Taking Turns - Through nine games, five different Spartans have led the team in scoring this season. Maurice Ager and Paul Davis have led the team three times. Alan Anderson, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert have each led the team in one game.

Hitting The Mark - Last season, Michigan State was the only team to rank in the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage (5th, .492), free-throw percentage (4th, .771) and 3-point field-goal percentage (8th, .401). Through nine games this year, the Spartans are even better, shooting 49.4 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from 3-point range and 78.9 percent from the free-throw line. MSU's shooting should come as no surprise considering the team returns its top six scorers from a 2003-04 squad that became the first team ever to lead the Big Ten in league games in field-goal percentage (.522), 3-point field-goal percentage (.434), free-throw percentage (.777) and scoring offense (71.3 ppg) (conference games only).

Spartans Share The Ball - One of the greatest traits of this Michigan State team is its unselfishness. Through nine games, MSU is averaging 18.3 assists per game. The Spartans have recorded assists on 165 of their 259 baskets (63.7 percent).

Ager's Explosion - Several Spartans are putting up good numbers in the early going, but Maurice Ager has been arguably the most productive player. He leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, and ranks second in rebounding with 5.1 boards per contest. He entered the season averaging 7.5 points for his career, shooting 39.2 percent, including 36.9 percent from 3-point range. His accuracy has improved greatly this season, shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from 3-point range.

Hill Moves Up Career Scoring List - Chris Hill currently stands at 1,350 points, in 16th place on the MSU all-time scoring list. He needs 28 points to pass Julius McCoy (1,377 points) and move into 15th place. With 191 points, he will move into the top 10.

Hill For Three - Chris Hill is among the best 3-point shooters in MSU history. He ranks second in career 3-point field goals made (271) and career attempts (624) and sixth in career 3-point field-goal percentage (.434). Hill has made at least one 3-point field goal in 101 of 105 games in his career. His 271 career 3-point field goals rank sixth in Big Ten history, 61 behind Penn State's Pete Lisicky. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged 89.5 3-pointers.

Chris Hill Off The Court - Chris Hill has been named the 2004 Playboy Magazine Anson Mount Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In recognition of this honor, Michigan State University will receive a $5,000 check for its general scholarship fund in Hill's name. Now in its 17th year, the purpose of the award is to call attention to the importance of scholarship combined with excellence in collegiate athletics and to honor an individual who personifies the best qualities of both. In 2003-04, Hill earned first-team Academic All-America honors, becoming the first Spartan to accomplish that feat since Greg Kelser in 1979.

Spartan Depth - Through nine games, 10 Michigan State Spartans are averaging at least 9.6 minutes of action, with six players playing more than 20 minutes. No single player is averaging more than 26.6 minutes per contest.

Torbert Hits The Mark - After shooting 41.1 percent from the floor in his first two seasons, Kelvin Torbert is shooting 53.8 percent in his last two years. In 2003-04, Torbert was the only player in the Big Ten to rank in the top 10 in field-goal percentage (8th, .534), 3-point field-goal percentage (1st, .484) and free-throw percentage (6th, .800). His .588 3-point percentage in conference games is the second highest mark in conference history. He is off to an equally impressive start this season, shooting 54.8 percent from the floor, 40.9 percent from 3-point range and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line.

Anderson Feeling Comfortable - With the addition of Drew Neitzel to help handle the point guard duties, Alan Anderson has been able to return to his natural forward position. The change has led to increased production, as he is currently averaging 12.1 points and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 55.4 percent from the field. Prior to this season, he had never averaged 10 points in any season or shot better than 50.3 percent.

No Sophomore Slump - In 2003-04, Shannon Brown earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team, averaging 7.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game. This season, he is averaging 11.7 points and 3.0 boards in 24.0 minutes per contest.

Davis Earns Big Ten POW Honors - After scoring a season-best 20 points and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds vs. Stanford, Paul Davis was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday, Dec. 13. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line in recording the 10th 20-point game of his career.

Breslin Success - Michigan State has sold out 102 consecutive regular-season games at the Breslin Center. Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Michigan State has won 90 of its last 96 regular-season games in Breslin, a winning percentage of .938.

Davis Earns Preseason Honor - Junior center Paul Davis was selected to the Big Ten preseason all-conference team. As a sophomore, Davis averaged 15.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 56.8 percent from the floor. Last year, he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and an Associated Press honorable mention All-American. This season, he has been named a John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-American and a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award.

The Century Mark - Michigan State opened the season with three consecutive 100-point games for just the second time in school history (1963-64). Prior to this season, Tom Izzo's Spartans had topped 100 points just twice in his nine full seasons.

Winning The Right Way - In addition to excelling on the court, the Spartans are standouts in the classroom. Fourteen Spartans have received their undergraduate degrees over the last five years, including five each in 2001 and 2003.

Another Difficult Slate - Michigan State has put together another challenging schedule in 2004-05. It includes five teams that appeared in the 2004 NCAA Tournament (Duke, Illinois, Florida A&M, Stanford and Wisconsin) and five that appeared in the NIT (George Mason, George Washington, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue).

Experience Matters - Michigan State players have a combined 357 starts in their careers, including 253 career starts for Alan Anderson, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert. Entering the season, MSU's returning players had 312 career starts (most in the Big Ten) and 601 career appearances (second most in the Big Ten). The trio of Anderson, Hill and Torbert had 235 career starts, making them the most experienced trio in the Big Ten. The Spartans also return 93.7 percent of their scoring, 85.6 percent of their rebounding and 88.3 percent of their minutes from last year.

New Faces - Michigan State's 2004-05 roster features five new names, including freshmen Marquise Gray, Idong Ibok, Drew Neitzel, Goran Suton and junior Jason Aerts. Neitzel is an ambidextrous point guard who won the 2004 Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award. Gray is a 6-8 athletic power forward who was named The Associated Press Class C Player of the Year. Ibok is a Nigerian native who attended school in Florida last season. He features a 7-foot-5 wingspan and is a dangerous shot blocker. Suton is a 6-10 post player with solid ball skills who can score in the post or on the perimeter. He moved to Lansing from Bosnia-Herzegovina prior to high school. Aerts is a walk-on who played two seasons at Aquinas College.

Spartans On TV - This season, 26 of Michigan State's 27 regular-season games will be televised, including seven on ESPN, one on ESPN2 and three on CBS. In addition, MSU could have one more game on either ESPN or ESPN2.

The Golden Arches - Michigan State is becoming the home for McDonald's All-Americans. Over the past six seasons, seven McDonald's All-Americans have joined the Spartan squad, including Jason Richardson in 1999, Marcus Taylor and McDonald's All-American All-Star game MVP Zach Randolph in 2000, Kelvin Torbert in 2001, Paul Davis in 2002 and Shannon Brown and Brandon Cotton in 2003.

Home To Mr. Basketball - Five of the last six recipients of Michigan's Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award, presented to the top high school player in the state, have gone on to wear a Spartan jersey. Jason Richardson (Saginaw Arthur Hill HS) won the award in 1999, followed by Marcus Taylor (Lansing Waverly HS) in 2000, Kelvin Torbert (Flint Northwestern HS) in 2001, Paul Davis (Rochester HS) in 2002 and Drew Neitzel (Wyoming Park HS) in 2004. While the 2003 winner did not attend MSU, Shannon Brown (Proviso East HS) captured Illinois' Mr. Basketball Award that same year.

Spartans In The NBA - Listed below is an update on seven former Spartans currently on NBA rosters: (Stats current through Dec. 26.)

	Mateen Cleaves (Seattle): 8 GP, 1.6 mpg, 0.3 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg
	Morris Peterson (Toronto): 29 GP, 23.2 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg
	Zach Randolph (Portland): 25 GP, 38.4 mpg, 20.7 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.2 apg
	Jason Richardson (Golden State): 27 GP, 37.0 mpg, 20.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.5 apg
	Steve Smith (Charlotte): 20 GP, 20.1 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.0 apg
	Eric Snow (Cleveland): 26 GP, 20.0 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.4 apg
	Kevin Willis (Atlanta): 17 GP, 13.4 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.2 apg



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