At a Glance: Michigan State

A closer look at Illinois next opponent -- the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans.

Illinois (13-5, 2-3) vs. Michigan State (16-1, 5-0)
Jan. 18, 2014, 7 pm CST - Champaign, Ill. - State Farm Center (16,618)
Big Ten Network - Eric Collins, Jim Jackson

Notes (per Michigan State sports info):

THE OPENING TIP - Having matched the best one-loss start in school history, Michigan State travels to Illinois for the second road game in the state this week. Despite starting nine different lineups in the last 12 games, MSU is a perfect 8-0 away from Breslin Center this season, but will face an Illini squad that is 9-1 at home.

THE STARTING FIVE - 1. Spartans Away From Home

Michigan State is a perfect 8-0 away from home this season, including 4-0 on an opponent's home court. It marks the first time in school history that MSU has won its first seven games away from East Lansing. The Spartans are scoring 78.2 points per game away from Breslin Center, with four players averaging 13 points or more (Gary Harris-18.9 ppg, Keith Appling-15.8 ppg, Adreian Payne-15.7 ppg, Branden Dawson-13.0 ppg). By winning at Penn State and Indiana to open conference play, it marked the first time since 2008-09 and just the second time in school history that MSU opened league play with a 2-0 record with both games on the road. MSU has won each of its four road games by 14 points or more, marking the first time in school history it has accomplished that feat during the same season. MSU has been especially dominant in the second half of road games, out-scoring opponents by an average of +14.25 points after halftime.

2. Different Ways To Win - With its 54-40 win at Northwestern, Michigan State proved it could win a low-scoring contest with its defense. But MSU has also shown it can win with a potent offense. In fact, MSU has now won games when scoring in the 50's (1), 60's (2), 70's (5), 80's (3), 90's (4), and 100's (1). Wisconsin and Michigan State are the only teams to accomplish this feat in the Big Ten, and one of just seven schools to do it nationally, joining Connecticut, Florida State, Marquette, Norfolk State and Tennessee Tech.

3. Spartans Off To Record Start - With a 16-1 record, the 2013-14 Spartans have matched the 1931 and 2001 teams for the best 17-game starts in school history. The 1931 squad finished the season at 16-1, while the 2001 team dropped its 18th game at Ohio State.

4. Taking Care Of The Ball - Michigan State is on pace to shatter the mark for fewest turnovers during the Tom Izzo era. MSU is currently averaging 11.0 turnovers. The previous low during the Izzo era was 13.0 in 2011-12. The Spartans are 11-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent. MSU is averaging 7.0 turnovers in its last two games against Minnesota and Northwestern. MSU ranks third in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+2.8), out-scoring opponents by +4.6 points per game (17.2-12.6).

5. Izzo Moves Up Big Ten Coaching List - With MSU's next win, Tom Izzo will past Illinois' Lou Henson for sole possesion of fourth place on the Big Ten career victories list with 215 wins. In MSU's 73-56 win at Indiana, Izzo moved past IU's Branch McCracken for fifth place on the career Big Ten victories list with 211. Indiana's Bob Knight is the all-time leader with 353 Big Ten wins.

Probable starters:
Matt Costello: F, 6-9, 240, So. - 3.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Branden Dawson: F, 6-6, 225, Jr. - 10.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg
Denzel Valentine: G, 6-5, 220, So. - 7.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Gary Harris: G, 6-4, 210, So. - 17.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Keith Appling: G, 6-1, 185, Sr. - 16.1 ppg, 4.6 apg

Off the bench:
Adreian Payne: C, 6-10, 245, Sr. - 16.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg (missed last two games)
Alex Gauna: F, 6-9, 250, RJr. - 2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Travis Trice: G, 6-0, 170, Jr. - 7.3 ppg, 2.3 apg
Kenny Kaminski: F, 6-8, 225, RFr. - 5.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg

Series history:
Series record: Tied 56-56
Series streak: Michigan State W1
Record at Champaign: Illinois leads 37-17
Series streak at Champaign: Illinois W3
Last year's meeting: No. 13 Michigan State 80, Illinois 75 - 1/31/2013 @ East Lansing
Groce vs. Michigan State: 0-1

Fun fact:

Illini great Eddie Johnson will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game. This season marks the 35th anniversary of his game-winning shot against No. 1 Michigan State at then-Assembly Hall on Jan. 11, 1979. Johnson hit a 15-footer from the right baseline with four seconds left, giving the Illini a 57-55 win over the eventual NCAA Champion Spartans. It marked Illinois' first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team.

Notable quotable:

"Terrific basketball team coming in, very similar watching them as when we prepared for Indiana last year. They've got a lot of answers. They've got a lot of guys. They've got a lot of depth. It's been amazing watching them play and battle through certain injuries that they've had." - Illinois coach John Groce

MSU team info:

Illini Inquirer Top Stories