PREVIEW: Michigan State vs. Cleveland State

True freshman J'Nathan Bullock leads the Vikings in scoring at 11 points per game with junior guard Raheem Moss close behind at 10.5 points per game.

When #12 Michigan State squares off against Cleveland State on Friday in East Lansing, it will be a battle of two coaches who have been friends for over 30 years.

Tom Izzo's Spartans (7-2) are riding a six-game win streak and have two players scoring over 20 points per game, Maurice Ager (21.7 ppg) and Paul Davis (20.6 ppg).

Paul Davis is averaging a double-double on the season as he is playing like an all-American.

Mike Garland's Vikings (2-4) are looking to improve their game by facing an elite program such as Michigan State.

True freshman J'Nathan Bullock leads the Vikings in scoring at 11 points per game with junior guard Raheem Moss close behind at 10.5 points per game.

Garland has switched around his starting lineups frequently this season trying to give his young players game experience and seeing who can produce.

Although Izzo doesn't like facing his old assistant coaches much, what is most important to him is if the opposing coaches' players get better from it.

Garland served as Izzo's assistant coach at Michigan State from 1996-2003, but these two coaches go back all the way into their playing days.

Both members of the Northern Michigan class of 1977, they played basketball together where Garland befriended Izzo, who was a young walk-on. They have been friends ever since and in 2000, they won a national championship together.

Izzo is 1-1 in his career against his former assistants, splitting a pair of games against Stan Joplin at Toledo.

The Friday night game will come at the end of a week of finals for Michigan State players, with some like senior forward Matt Trannon taking an exam early Friday afternoon prior to the 7pm tip-off.

Freshman Marquise Gray may get the start at forward for the Spartans, as Izzo revealed at Monday's press conference that junior forward Drew Naymick might sit out for the remainder of the season and apply for a medical redshirt. Naymick is coming off shoulder surgery that has been giving him problems.

The Spartans will be returning home to the Breslin Center as well, having last played there more than two weeks ago on November 30 against Georgia Tech.

Although this game will be tough for both coaches to handle, when the two shake hands at the game's conclusion for a job well done, they will still be friends rather than opponents.


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