Izzo sees challenges from UK

MSU coach outlines challenges from Wildcats, including a big starting lineup of mostly freshmen.

This time last season, four of Kentucky's five expected starters against Michigan State were high school seniors.

For the Spartans, the new talent on the Wildcats' roster presents a challenge from a scouting perspective, but coach Tom Izzo sees challenges in three key facets of the matchup on Tuesday night in Chicago.

"Transition defense will still be the No. 1 and they're very good in the open court, both those guards," Izzo said. "The Harrisons (Andrew and Aaron) are extremely versatile there and probably the X-factor is (Julius) Randle. At 6-9, handles the ball almost as much as the two guards."

The Wildcats starters all check in at least 6-foot-6, led on the interior by Randle and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, leading Izzo to name rebounding as his No. 2 concern.

Third was pointing to the foul situation and how the game is called with new rules in place both on the perimeter and in the post for defenders.

"My guy came up with a stat I think there were five teams in the first two games that shot more than 50 free throws in a game," Izzo said. "Last year I think there were 11 in whole season. So what does that mean? I don't know. It's no advantage, disadvantage because it's the same for both teams. But that is gonna play a factor depending on how it's called."

The Spartans were called for 12 fouls in their season-opening 98-56 win against McNeese State on Friday.

Also of concern for Izzo was the fact that the Spartans shot just five free throws against the Cowboys.

"Most of those teams zoned us," he said. "That explains some of it. No. 2, I didn't think we got the ball inside enough and settling a little bit too much.

"We had some open looks and we shot pretty well, so again there are reasons for it, but those would be two areas I think we have to improve on quickly if we're going to compete with a team like this."


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