VAUGHT: Crawford looks forward to playing MSU

Few people know UK's next opponent, Michigan State, as well as Joe Crawford. He's from Detroit and seriously considered going to Michigan State before signing with the Wildcats last year.

No one at Kentucky knows more about Michigan State basketball than freshman Joe Crawford.

He's from Detroit and seriously considered going to Michigan State before signing with the Wildcats last year. He played against many of the current Spartans in high school and during AAU competition. He knows several players and still talks to some of them.

If that's not enough, Michigan State was a school he thought of transferring to when he left the Kentucky program for a week in January. Crawford later returned saying he was sorry for making an "emotional decision" that was wrong.

But now he's eager to play against his friends at Michigan State for a berth in the Final Four.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Crawford said. "I don't want to get too excited and lose my focus. I don't want to try and do too much. I have a role to play and have to stick with that.

"But I know they are a tough, physical team. They are similar to us. They are very athletic, probably more athletic than a lot of people realize. They play a lot of people like we do. They really go to the boards. It should really be a good game."

Crawford wasn't surprised Michigan State upset Duke.

"I thought they would," he said after Kentucky's win over Utah. "They are bigger and deeper than Duke. They are a good team."

Crawford, who was 3-for-4 from the field against Utah and had seven points, said it will be a bit awkward playing against the Spartans.

"It will be fun, but it's also awkward for me," he said. "But I also know it's going to be a real battle."

He was at Ford Field last season when over 78,000 fans watched Kentucky beat Michigan State 79-74.

"I was still trying to decide then where I was going to school," Crawford said. "Michigan State played a good game, but Kentucky still won, just like it always does. That's one reason I came here."

His teammates think he will be fine against the Spartans.

"I know what the game is going to mean to him," freshman Ramel Bradley said. "But he's playing well now. He's going to be fine."


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