Another Storied Program on Deck for State

"They got a lot of athletic kids," Spartan freshman Delvon Roe said of the Kansas Jayhawks, "and it's going to be a test for our bigs and our guards to make sure we corral and stop their penetration with Collins and make sure we do a lot of damage ourselves on the offensive end."

EAST LANSING — Prime time, here comes the Spartans again.

Saturday afternoon's showdown with Kansas will provide the Michigan State another opportunity to showcase themselves to a large national audience.

Many of the Spartans' games are televised nationally, but this will be viewed as a spotlight game that consists of two of the best programs in the country. The Spartans know that the many eyes will be on them as they battle the Jayhawks.

"There's no doubt that Kansas is one of the storied programs," MSU coach Tom Izzo said after practice on Thursday. "There are four or five of them out there. They are the defending national champs. I think there is a lot of significance to the game, for our team this year, for our program in the big picture."

A minimal amount of luster is lost because a hoard of Jayhawks from last year's team are currently in the NBA, but the fact remains that Kansas is Kansas, and always possesses top notch talent. This young Kansas team started the season playing inconsistently, but as many young teams do, they have started to peak after Christmas.

"They're looking a lot better if you watch them lately," Izzo said "I'll say right before Christmas they didn't look as good against Arizona, but since then I think they've been playing a lot more consistent basketball."

The leader and best player for the Jayhawks is point guard Sherron Collins. Collins is a big-bodied guard that can get up and down the floor with the likes of North Carolina's Ty Lawson and MSU's own Kalin Lucas. Collins is averaging 17.6 points a 5 assists per game.

"Sharron Collins is the head of the team," senior guard Travis Walton said. "He's a big time guard. He's big, he can shoot the ball, and can handle the rock."

The Spartans plan on using a couple of different guys on the Chicago native, but the task defending him will primarily rest on the shoulders of Walton.

"It might be some different guys, but I think we'll start with Walton on him," said Izzo "He's the defensive stopper for us. I think he's looking forward to the challenge."

Kansas' other big time player is sophomore Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is posting 15 points and just under 10 rebounds a night. Aldrich is a guy that enjoys playing physical, but he has exceptional athletic ability as well.

"He's long. You got to watch out for those over the top plays," said MSU senior center Goran Suton. "You have to keep solid and be physical with him. Push him out of the lane, and make him take tough shots."

The rest of Jayhawks aren't as well known — mostly young players that have never played on this level or have played sparsely because of the outstanding roster the Jayhawks displayed last season. Young players who contribute include sophomores Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar, as well as the freshman trio of Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Tyshawn Taylor, the team's third leading scorer at 10 points per game.

"They got a lot of athletic kids," Spartan freshman Delvon Roe said, "and it's going to be a test for our bigs and our guards to make sure we corral and stop their penetration with Collins and make sure we do a lot of damage ourselves on the offensive end."

The lack of household names on the Kansas roster may take some of the gleam off of the matchup for some people, but the Spartans realize that the Jayhawks are still the champs regardless of who is in uniform.

"Well, it's a huge game for us. It's a CBS game," Suton said. "They're a good team. They're the defending national champions. Anytime you got that type of quality team coming in your house, you have to take care of business."

STUDENTS RETURN

One aspect about Saturday's game that has many Michigan State players excited is the return of the Izzone. After playing in a subdued Breslin Center for a few games, the players will take the floor in front of thousands of their fellow students.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," senior Travis Walton said. "I know they have some personal things (to handle). They say Kansas has got the best student section, so I know our Izzone is going to take that personal."


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