Spartans Face Test on Road at Bradley

The No.9 Spartans are the highest ranked team ever to play at Bradley's Carver Arena, where the Braves have won 29 consecutive non-conference games.

On Tuesday night, No.9 Michigan State will go on the road for their first true road game of the season as they travel to Peoria, Illinois to take on the Bradley Braves (9 p.m. ET ESPNU).

Although they played on the road in Kansas City on a neutral site as part of the CBE Classic, their semifinal opponent Missouri, had most of the crowd on their side, making it a tough road game and win for MSU (6-1).

Now the Braves (6-2) welcome the Spartans to their home at Carver Arena, where they have won 29 consecutive non-conference home games. Their home winning streak is tied for fifth nationally, with MSU holding a 31-game non-conference winning streak, ranking third on that same list.

Michigan State will be the highest ranked team ever to play at the 26-year old venue.

The Spartans hit the road for their next two games, which are both against strong teams that are both projected to finish atop their respective conferences.

After Bradley, MSU will travel to Salt Lake City to face BYU, where the crowd will be all but green and white as well. BYU took No.2 North Carolina to the last seconds in a game just two weeks ago.

"This is a big week for us, Bradley is one of the more difficult places to go play at, and then with the game at BYU, I think it will be one of the best games we will play in our non-conference schedule," said coach Tom Izzo.

As for the Braves, senior point guard Daniel Ruffin is much like MSU All-American Drew Neitzel.

Both were nominated for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, and they are also the top two leaders in most assists by active players in the NCAA.

Ruffin leads the nation with 533 career assists while Neitzel has 471 assists.

"I've seen too much of him (Ruffin)," said Izzo. "I saw a lot of him last year, he's a very athletic guard, very quick, he can shoot threes, he can get to the basket, he's not real big but he is real quick and athletic."

Ruffin leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points, over 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game.

Bradley plays a three-guard lineup with all three guards averaging double-figure scoring.

Senior guard Jeremy Crouch scores 14.8 points per game and joins Ruffin in a very experienced backcourt.

"Crouch is just a knock down shooter, shooting 47 or 48 percent from three and he takes a lot of them," said Izzo. "Those two guys (Crouch and Ruffin) you are getting a one-two punch as good as any team we will play."

The Braves shoot a lot of three-pointers, attempting over 200 threes already this season, averaging 38 percent. They average 10 three-pointers made per game, which is double what MSU makes per game.

"Any time you can shoot threes like they can shoot them and averaging almost 10 threes a game and then you get them at home, that does scare me, you're going to see as good a coached team and a shooting team as we'll face," said Izzo.

This is the third ever meeting between the two teams, with MSU winning both previous games, including an 82-53 blowout almost exactly a year ago on Dec 3 in East Lansing.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage. They have scored 80 points or more as many times this season as they did all of last year.

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