Sweet Home at the Breslin

"The two wins are very important to start out with, and sure they give you a feeling of good news, but there's 16 more games to go," Coach Tom Izzo said after Monday's practice. "There's a lot more road games to go, and maybe more importantly, there are some huge home games."

EAST LANSING -- Doesn't it seem as if every Michigan State basketball game played this season has been played away from the Breslin Center? Well, it seems like that because only four have been played in East Lansing, the most recent on Dec. 17, against The Citadel.

On Tuesday night, the Spartans will play their Big Ten home opener against Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes. Actually having some time at home gives the Spartans a chance to get some sorely needed practice time after being on the road for the last week.

In the past, the MSU has frequently started its Big Ten slate on the road. The results were not as good as they were this season after convincing wins against Minnesota and Northwestern.

And with Purdue's home loss to Illinois, many are figuring that this Spartan team is on the fast track to the Big Ten title.

Coach Tom Izzo, however, thinks that the road ahead will be a lot more difficult than what people think.

"The two wins are very important to start out with, and sure they give you a feeling of good news, but there's 16 more games to go," he said after Monday's practice. "There's a lot more road games to go, and maybe more importantly, there are some huge home games."

The players recognize the challenges ahead but view the two road victories as potential springboards to bigger and better things.

"It's huge. It just gets our confidence going," forward Raymar Morgan said. "It gets us on a comfortable level, that we just feel at ease and now that we're back at home, we feel great."

Coach Izzo says that the Spartans must remain focused and not rest on their laurels because anything can happen on any night — just ask recently-defeated-once-thought-to-be-invincible North Carolina.

"I think what happens sometimes is when you win on the road, you assume you're going to win at home, and you know what happens when you assume," Izzo said.

TOP BUCKEYE

The Buckeyes are a young team that possess an abundance of talent, so it especially hurt when the team lost junior David Lighty with a broken foot.

Sophomore Evan Turner, who has been playing extremely well since the season began, has had to take on more of a leadership role as well. Turner is averaging 16.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. His versatility is something that Michigan State must be conscious of.

"Evan Turner is a great athlete. He puts the ball on the floor very well, he creates for his teammates," Raymar Morgan said. "It's definitely going to be a good matchup. We're looking forward to playing them and just playing Ohio State period."

Spartan guard Kalin Lucas echoed those sentiments.

"When we play Evan Turner, you got to have six eyes on him," he said. "He likes to drive right a lot, so when he does get the ball we do have to shrink the court."

TICKETS

Tickets are available for the Michigan State men's basketball Big Ten home opener against Ohio State on Jan. 6 at the Breslin Center at 7 p.m. With students on semester break, seats in the student section are available for the contest.

Tickets range in price from $13-$30 and may be purchased through the MSU Athletics Ticket Office by phone at 1-800-GO-STATE or 517-355-1610 or online at www.msuspartans.com.


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