MSU Hoops: Scouting North Carolina State

After seeing UCLA's freshman Kevin Love last week, MSU will see yet another phenom freshman on the Wolfpack

EAST LANSING - After seeing one star freshman last week in UCLA's Kevin Love, No.13 Michigan State will see yet another freshman putting up big numbers when they square off against North Carolina State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night at the Breslin Center.

6-foot-9 forward/center J.J. Hickson is averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds a game, and he is not even a starter for coach Sidney Lowe's team.

Hickson played on the same AAU team as MSU freshman Chris Allen and coach Tom Izzo has seen a lot of Hickson as a result.

"He reminds me a lot of Zach Randolph, he's got great footwork and great hands and he scores very efficiently," said Izzo. "He's a hard guy to double because he so quick, if he gets in down deep he's probably scoring, they do a pretty good job of getting him the ball."

NC State presents a very balanced scoring attack, featuring four players in double-figure scoring. But they are only scoring 66 points per contest to the Spartans' 80 points per game.

Senior Gavin Grant and junior Courtney Fells are two veteran guards that quarterback the offense and defense on the court, and combined with forward Brandon Costner, all average 10.8 per game.

The Wolfpack are coming off a big win on Sunday night against No.19 Villanova after Grant was fouled from three in the closing seconds, and hitting two-of-three free-throws to give NC State the 69-68 win.

Fells had 21 points and Hickson and Grant each scored 15 points.

The Wolfpack had a brief appearance in the top 25 polls last week but were knocked out after a poor loss to New Orleans on a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Now the Pack are 4-1 and are coming off a huge victory against a ranked opponent.

Rebounding will be a big factor in the game on Wednesday, as the Woflpack have been outrebounded by their opponents this season while the Spartans hold a rebounding margin of over 25 over their opponents.

Goran Suton had a big game on Saturday against Oakland, grabbing an impressive 20 boards on his way to a double-double, leading MSU past the Golden Grizzlies.

Michigan State is doing a great job shooting free-throws as Tom Izzo said that many times they are making more free-throws than their opponents are taking.

It will be the rebounding and free-throws that should be the difference in the game, although NC State does have some big bodies down low. Depth will be a problem for the Wolfpack, as they regularly play seven guys on the court while the Spartans frequently sub between 10 guys on the court.

As a result, MSU will look to wear down the Wolfpack by running their usual up-tempo style offense because NC State are not a running team.


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