GAME NOTES: The second-ranked Michigan State Spartans will face their first test of the 2010-11 season, as they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to the Breslin Center for tonight's non-conference clash.
South Carolina opened its campaign with a 94-79 win over Elon last Friday in Columbia. The Gamecocks are not one of the top teams in the SEC, but they can hold their own against most non-league foes. Unfortunately, facing a team as talented and well coached as Michigan State, on its home floor no less, doesn't bode well for a team that went just 2-9 in road games last year, and has won just seven of its last 15 road tilts over the past two seasons.
Michigan State is led by head coach Tom Izzo, and he has his team once again primed for another successful run in the always tough Big Ten Conference. The Spartans, who have appeared in six Final Fours over the last 12 years, began their season last Friday by whipping Eastern Michigan at home, 96-66. Following this contest, MSU will head to Hawaii to participate in the Maui Invitational.
The Spartans have won three of the previous five meetings with the Gamecocks, with the last game taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico back in 1999.
Sam Muldrow scored 20 points and Lakeem Jackson notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead South Carolina to a 94-79 win over Elon on Friday night. As a result, head coach Darrin Horn is a perfect 3-0 in season openers. Ramon Galloway returned from injury to net 11 points in the victory, and USC wound up putting six players in double figures. As a team, the Gamecocks shot better from three-point range (.563) than they did from the field overall (.530), and they will need to do a much better job hitting their free throws moving forward as the 15-of-27 showing against Elon clearly won't do against the better teams they will face this year, of which Michigan State is clearly one. A 43-36 edge in rebounding helped the cause, as did a defensive effort that limited the Phoenix to 38.3 percent field goal efficiency.
Despite coming off a serious injury, Michigan State's Kalin Lucas is the popular pick to claim the Big Ten's Player of the Year award. The senior guard appeared to be in fine form as he scored 18 points and dished out six assists to lead the Spartans to their 30-point win over Eastern Michigan in the season opener. Durrell Summers nailed 3-of-4 three-point tries on his way to 17 points, and a total of six Spartans reached double digits in scoring. Michigan State hit 52.5 percent of its total shots in the game, and came up with 51 rebounds. The one area of concern for the Spartans was the fact that they were guilty of 20 turnovers. They did, however, hold EMU to 31.6 percent field goal accuracy, and forced 19 turnovers. A 28-7 edge in points from the foul line, along with staggering advantages in both points in the paint (40-18) and bench points (36-8) also played an integral role in the final outcome.
The Gamecocks are sure to put up a fight, but they simply lack the overall talent and depth needed to keep up with the mighty Spartans for very long.