No.12 Michigan State (2-0) tips off against Missouri (3-0) on Monday night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City (9:30pm ET ESPNU).
Missouri presents a great challenge for the young Spartan team with the full-court press throughout the entire game.
"My concern is that our young guys are not used to that kind of pressure, this is back to the Iowa complete mad-dog style press where they come at you from all angles," said coach Tom Izzo. "It's not just a press breaker that you can run, you have to break the press from one end to another and it doesn't let up."
After turning the ball over 20 times against Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday, MSU must fine-tune their turnover problems quick, because the Tigers will provide much more pressure than a Sun Belt conference team like the Warhawks.
"They press the whole game so we have to be ready for that," said freshman guard Kalin Lucas. "We just have to calm down and try to make good choices and make good passes."
Mizzou enters their second year under coach Mike Anderson, who led UAB to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen using that same press defense. Playing in the Big 12 conference, the Tigers were 18-12 overall last season.
Missouri features a big-man duo of juniors DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons. The 6-foot-9 Lyons alternated starting duties last season, leading the team with 23 dunks, ranking second on the team in rebounding (4.3 RPG) and he was the team's leader in shooting percentage (55.0%).
Carroll is in his first year with the Tigers after transferring from Vanderbilt last season. The 6-foot-7 power forward averaged 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Vandy.
In their first round game of the CBE Classic against Central Michigan, Carroll and Lyons, Mizzou will rely heavily on all season, combined for 41 points and 13 rebounds while making 18 of their 21 field-goal attempts.
Carroll will be a force inside and Lyons complements him well, posing a very dangerous threat to MSU.
But on the other side, MSU is coming off a second round CBE Classic game against Louisiana-Monroe where they outrebounded them 50-23.
Tom Izzo's MSU teams have always been staples atop the Big Ten standing in rebounding and they led the conference once again last season.
Despite the big bodies, CMU out-rebounded Mizzou, 35-33, and used offensive rebounds to stay close in the first half, but the boards have been a major problem so far for the Tigers overall.
It has been such a problem that they were outrebounded by division II Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) in an exhibition game 36-33.
The Tigers' rebounding woes let their opponents get second chance baskets, something the Spartans and especially Raymar Morgan so far this season, have done a great job of and should take advantage of on Monday night.
One big-time player for the Tigers will be the two senior guards, Stefhon Hannah and Jason Horton.
Hannah was the team's best player a year ago, leading the team in scoring (15.4 PPG), assists (4.6 APG), steals (2.4 SPG) and minutes played. He reached double-figures in 27 of 30 contests last year as well.
Horton is the team's best defensive on-ball player, being among the school's all-time leaders in assists and steals.
Michigan State will be looking at a suffocating full-court press from the Tigers and some very athletic bigs inside. The Tigers have a veteran backcourt as well that is much like the Spartans' duo of All-American Drew Neitzel and junior Travis Walton.
It will be the first game away from East Lansing for the Spartans, who have three-new freshman who will be playing their first away game.
Although it is on a neutral court in Kansas City, the Missouri campus is about 150 miles away in-state, making for a strong Missouri following on Monday night.
"I am really looking forward to seeing how we respond, right now we haven't played well enough to feel comfortable with how we're playing but that's expected this time of year," said Izzo.
"I think it's too early to start judging where we are. If we win and play well it's not anything yet but if we lose and don't play well its concerning only because you'd like to lose and play well, but you definitely don't want to go there and play poorly," added Izzo.
In the other semifinal, No.2 UCLA will square off against Maryland. The winner of both semifinals will meet on Tuesday night in the CBE Classic Championship (10pm ET ESPN2).
CBE Classic Semifinals: Scouting Missouri
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