MSU Returns Home to Host Oakland

After nearly knocking off No.1 UCLA in the CBE Classic, NO.10 MSU comes home with some positives

After giving No.1 UCLA a run for their money in the finals of the CBE Classic, No.10 Michigan State returns home to face Oakland on Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center.

UCLA did not lead against MSU until Luc Richard Mbah a Moute hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds left to take a 66-63 lead.

MSU led by as many as 13 points in the first half but saw their lead quickly shrink, as the Bruins put on a rebounding display over the Spartans, leading 22-7 in offensive rebounds and 37-28 for the game.

"It's an insult to me and the players that played before us that we gave up the offensive rebounds we gave up tonight," Izzo said after the game. "That will change."

"I'm sure I'll find something good to talk about tomorrow," he said, "it just isn't going to be tonight."

And indeed there were a lot of positive that Izzo will find when he goes back to watch the UCLA game film.

First, his bench combined for 40 points, showing just the kind of depth MSU will have going deeper into the season.

Second, MSU shot 52.3 percent against a physical and active UCLA defense.

And third, the MSU defense did a masterful job of being physical inside against Bruins freshman big-man Kevin Love, making him fight for every basket. They ultimately held the top-ranked Bruins to 39.7 percent shooting, which on many nights would be a good enough defensive effort to win.

But yet the Spartans return home 3-1, having made key mistakes in the closing minutes against UCLA and having trouble finishing both games in the championship rounds of the CBE Classic.

"That is a great Michigan State team," said UCLA coach Ben Howland. "They're very, very good and there's no doubt in my mind they'll go deep into the NCAA Tournament, with a chance at their fifth Final Four in (10) years. ... they're going to win a lot of games."

Now the Spartans (3-1) will host the Golden Grizzlies (2-2) on Saturday afternoon for the seventh time in the last 10 years, with MSU holding a 6-0 record all-time.

Michigan State defeated Oakland, 71-53, on Nov. 25, 2006 at the Breslin Center, as Drew Neitzel led four Spartans in double figures with 21 points, while Marquise Gray posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The Spartans held a 43-28 rebounding advantage and took a 40-13 halftime lead.

Raymar Morgan leads the team with 16.8 points and nine rebounds per game and the All-American Neitzel is averaging 15.3 points per game and nearly five assists per contest.

Oakland is led by junior Derick Nelson Jr. averaging 18.8 points per game and nine rebounds. Guard Brandon Cassise adds 17.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds.

The Golden Grizzlies are an impressive rebounding team, averaging 24.25 offensive rebounds per game. They also average 9.5 steals per game as well and will have a great defense against the Spartans.

The MSU offense is back in the swing of things this season, scoring 80 or more points in three of four games this season after only scoring 80 or more points just five times all of last year.

Another great positive for Tom Izzo is that his trio of star freshman, Chris Allen, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, are averaging 23.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists combined per game in 57.3 minutes.

Starting Saturday, MSU will play three games in one week, hosting North Carolina State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday and Jacksonville a week from tomorrow on Dec. 1.

This begins the time of year where MSU has to bear down over the holidays and through the New Year to tune things up before Big Ten conference play begins on Jan. 5 against Minnesota.

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