MSU Hosts Ga. Tech in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

"The ACC is a great conference but unfortunately they completely judge the whole year on this thing and it comes down to matchups and who's participating in it," --MSU head coach Tom Izzo.

EAST LANSING -- #13 Michigan State (3-2) welcomes in the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-1) on Wednesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Spartans are coming off an 84-73 win over IPFW (Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne) on Sunday while the Yellow Jackets are coming off a 73-51 loss to Illinois-Chicago on Friday.

The Spartans are now home after a brief trip to Hawaii where they played a grueling four games in five days, including a triple overtime loss to #8 Gonzaga. Overall, their trip was 2-2, with their other loss coming in the season opener against Hawaii. The Spartans beat Chaminade to open the Maui Invitational and beat #9 Arizona in the consolation game.

The Spartans are 3-2 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games while the Jackets are 3-3. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has always been touted as the best conference, with teams such as Duke and last year's national champion North Carolina, but the Big Ten currently has four ranked teams in the Top 25 while the ACC have three.

"The ACC is a great conference but unfortunately they completely judge the whole year on this thing and it comes down to matchups and who's participating in it," said Coach Tom Izzo.

Wednesday's game is the fourth meeting between Georgia Tech and Michigan State in men's basketball and the first since 1990, when the Yellow Jackets defeated the Spartans, 81-80, in overtime in the NCAA Southeast Regional semifinals in New Orleans. Both teams have recently been to the Final Four with the Spartans last season and the Jackets losing in the NCAA title game in 2004.

The Spartans come into the game looking to build confidence and get their players some more time to get game ready. Center Paul Davis was named Big Ten Player Of The Week, averaging a double-double over four games last week.

The Spartans are seeing some bench players contribute as forward Goran Suton has seen playing time in place of starter Drew Naymick.

"Sometimes when you go from sub to starter, everybody handle it differently. He (Naymick) does give us a great sixth man and I think he's comfortable there," said Izzo. "It's going to be by committee probably all year. The guy starting might not be the guy that is playing at the end of the game."

Coach Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets are far from looking like a Final Four team right now. They lost all five starters from last season and will start four sophomores and a junior in their lineup.

"Anytime you lose a point guard like Jarret Jack, that's a lot to lose. Paul (Hewitt) is going through a lot and there are some voids that have been left from players leaving. Especially when you lose a guy early, it leaves holes in your team and it's tough on recruiting."

Hewitt is entering his sixth season as coach and is 98-67 at Georgia Tech.

What will be key for the Spartans against the Yellow Jackets is scoring early against a young team. They have the ability to score inside with Paul Davis and outside with Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown.

Center Ra'Sean Dickey and leading scorer Anthony Morrow will lead the way for the Yellow Jackets in their first road game of the season.

Michigan State is in a stretch where they play eight games in 18 days between Nov. 19 and Dec. 6. They face Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday in Grand Rapids, Michigan before heading to New York to face #8 Boston College in the Jimmy V Classic.

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