Spartan Clash pairs State vs. (7-1) Shockers

The Shockers' played strong against #10 Illinois November 25th, nearly pulling off an upset if not for a closing second lay-up by Warren Carter to give the Illini the one point victory.

EAST LANSING - Saturday night's third-annual Spartan Clash at the Palace of Auburn Hills features #14 Michigan State (6-2) facing the Wichita State Shockers (7-1). The Spartans are 1-1 the annual Clash. Last season, they defeated Stanford 78-53.

The game will be already the sixth neutral game site for the Spartans in their first nine games. The game still presents a somewhat home game feel for the Spartans, as they will be playing an hour from East Lansing.

The last meeting between the teams came during the 1989 NIT, with the Spartans defeating the Shockers, 79-67, in East Lansing. The all-time series is tied at 3.

The Spartans are coming off a strong performance in knocking off #6 Boston College on Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. Maurice Ager scored 22 points, 17 in the second half and Paul Davis chipped in with 18.

Michigan State has faced three top ten teams so far on the early season and is 2-1 in those games.

Tom Izzo's club is getting great help off the bench so far this year, with red-shirt freshmen Marquise Gray and Goran Suton both playing significant minutes, grabbing rebounds, and scoring key baskets in games. Gray made a three-point play in the second half against Boston College that put the Spartans up for good while Suton is averaging 5 rebounds a game.

True freshman Travis Walton has been playing nearly 20 minutes a game because he is a superb defender. Walton has given Izzo the great advantage in clutch situations of saving Shannon Brown from foul trouble on defense.

The Spartans have a lot of weapons to throw at Wichita State.

Maurice Ager is averaging 21.8 points a game and Paul Davis is playing like an all-American, averaging a double-double on the season with 20.6 points and 10 rebounds a game.

The Shockers' played strong against #10 Illinois Nov. 25 nearly pulling off an upset if not for a closing second lay-up by Warren Carter to give the Illini the one point victory. They have shown that they can stay with a good team like Illinois although the rest of their schedule to date has been against light competition.

Wichita State relies heavily on production from senior center Paul Miller and junior forward Kyle Wilson. Both players average 13.4 points a game while sophomores Sean Ogirri and PJ Cousinard both average just over 11 points a game.

The one thing that is improving for the Spartans is their defense. Although they allowed the Eagles to get back in the game late in the second half, they put the clamp on in the paint and forced the Eagles to take more outside shots. The Eagles put up some bad three-point shots and took themselves out of the game.

The Shockers average 14 turnovers a game, which means Tom Izzo will be stressing the need to pressure and capitalize off the fast break.

Besides the Illini, Wichita State has not faced a team that is as complete and experienced as the Spartans. Just like the Spartans did to start out the second half against BC, they will need to come out quick and not let Wichita State get confidence from their previous showing against the Illini.

After this game, the Spartans will play four of their next five games at home before kicking off Big Ten conference play with a showdown in Champaign against the Illini on January 5.

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