GAME NOTES: The 25th-ranked Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines are slated to add another chapter to a storied Big Ten Conference rivalry when the two meet at the Breslin Center in East Lansing tonight.
Michigan is in desperate need of a victory, as the team has suffered six consecutive defeats to fall to 1-6 in Big Ten action. The Wolverines also fell to 11-9 overall with last Saturday's 69-64 setback to Minnesota. Michigan has played six games away from home this season, only one of which has resulted in victory.
As for Michigan State, it has been wildly inconsistent this season, and losses in the last two outings have dropped Tom Izzo's club to 12-7 overall and 4-3 in conference. The Spartans are coming off an 86-76 setback to a powerful Purdue squad last Saturday in West Lafayette. Fortunately for MSU, tonight's game takes place at home where the team is 8-1 thus far.
Michigan owns an 82-64 series lead over Michigan State, but the Spartans have won the last four meetings. The sanction-adjusted series record stands at 76-60.
Darius Morris is the leading scorer for Michigan this season, as he is netting 15.5 ppg on 50.2 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 139 assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only other double-digit scorer for the Wolverines, as he is averaging 11.5 ppg despite his 36 percent shooting from the field. Michigan is generating 66.4 ppg this season while permitting just 62.6 ppg to opponents. In the narrow loss to Minnesota last Saturday, Michigan took great care of the ball, committing just seven turnovers while forcing 17 giveaways. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they were outrebounded by a 38-13 margin and were outscored 13-6 from the foul line. They also struggled defensively, permitting the Golden Gophers to shoot 63.4 percent from the floor. Hardaway Jr. finished with 20 points, while Morris and Novak pitched in with 11 points apiece.
Through 19 games, Michigan State is scoring 72.6 ppg while limiting opponents to 67.0 ppg on 41 percent shooting from the floor. Kalin Lucas leads the Spartans with 14.4 ppg, but he hasn't been nearly as dominant as many expected him to be. Durrell Summers provides 13.9 ppg for the Spartans, who are getting 13.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg and team-leading assists and steal totals from Draymond Green. In last Saturday's showdown with Purdue, Green played extremely well, as he scored 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds and six assists. Delvon Roe added 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, and Summers tallied 11 points. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Lucas managed a mere nine points before fouling out of the game, and a shaky defensive performance permitted the Boilermakers to make good on 58 percent of their field goal attempts. A 22-10 deficit in points from the foul line also hurt the cause.
The Spartans will get the job done in front of the home crowd tonight. Expect a big effort from Lucas after he struggled against Purdue.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Breslin Center (14,759) -- East Lansing, Michigan. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Michigan 10-4, Michigan St. 8-1. Away Record: Michigan 1-3, Michigan St. 1-4. Neutral Record: Michigan 0-2, Michigan St. 3-2. Conference Record: Michigan 1-6, Michigan St. 4-3. Series Record: Michigan leads, 82-64.
Thursday, January 27th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
TSN PREDICTION: Michigan State 79, Michigan 65