No.20 BYU Features Inside-Outside Duo

No.9 Michigan State travels to Salt Lake City to face a tough Cougars squad on Saturday

After surviving a downpour of three-pointers from Bradley on Tuesday night, No.9 Michigan State will see much of the same from BYU's three-point specialist, sophomore Jonathan Tavernari.

Tavernari has come up huge in the Cougars' (7-1) two biggest games this year, a 78-76 win over No. 6 Louisville and a 73-63 loss to No.1 North Carolina.

Against the Cardinals, he scored a career-high 29 points, including five three-pointers and after going 5-of-8 from three in the first half against the Tar Heels, he slowed down a bit, only hitting one three in the second half, still finishing with 18 points.

Tavernari is shooting 43 percent from three-point on the season and scores 16 points per game, which is second on the team.

"It's crazy because we didn't really have a good scouting report as far as how good he has been playing," said Travis Walton. "It's going to be tough for us because he shoots the ball quick he has no conscience, he just lets the ball go, so it's going to be a tough matchup."

But BYU is not just an outside threat with Tavernari, but also feature a one-two inside outside punch with center Trent Plaisted, scoring 18.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

"They definitely have a pro prospect in Plaisted inside and they got some very good guys on the perimeter," said coach Tom Izzo.

MSU (7-1) knows Plaisted pretty well from last year's meeting, when MSU beat the Cougars 76-61 at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

Plaisted scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and was a dominant force for BYU, being the best player on the court for his team. Lee Cummard scored 10 points to be the only other Cougar in double-figures.

Tavernari on the other hand, only played 11 minutes in the game as a freshman and scored five points, including one three-pointer.

This year, Cummard is averaging 14 points per game and is shooting 57 percent from the field.

The Cougars can hurt you outside with Tavernari's shooting but keep opposing defenses on their toes because they can go to Plaisted inside.

"They are very solid, they got guys who can shoot it, guys who can take it to the basket," said Izzo. "Cummard is a real athletic guy and they run It a lot more than they did last year, so this game could go up and down the court a lot."

Unlike last year's contest at held in Auburn Hills, this year's game will be played in Salt Lake City in front of a majority BYU crowd, making it a second straight hostile environment for MSU to play in.

Another thing that MSU will see a lot of from BYU that they saw from Bradley will be the passing.

Bradley was very active in moving the ball around until they get a good look, and BYU does the same thing, going to Plaisted inside then back out to the perimeter and around the outside.

"Bradley drove on us a lot, they spread the court out a litte more and BYU can shoot the ball a little more and keep it in tight," said Walton. "We got to shoot the ball a little better, our mistakes might cost us, they are a great shooting team, they have a great inside presence inside."

Michigan State will have another tough road test against the Cougars and although their freshman are still improving on their defense, the Spartans will have to play one of their best games on defense to keep BYU's two stars from scoring.

"It's going to be a team defensive effort, we all have to help each other, but we also can't leave the shooters alone," said Walton. "I think it's going to play a big role in where we are going to be on selection Sunday, it's going to be a big game and a big confidence boost to play a good team in a hostile environment."

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