This may not be Michael Jenkins last home game, but they are still honoring him as a Senior - he does have another year of eligibility left. The Cats will honor Jenkins and Davor Duvancic tonight.Now to Michigan State...
When last we met, the Cats folded down in East Lansing 87-58, as guard Maurice Ager scored 18, and center Paul Davis hit 17 [with 9 rebounds].
The Spartans are still pretty balanced this season - 4 starters average in double figures, with two more players less than a point away from 10 per game.
Maurice Ager is still the big man on the floor - but he doesn't always lead Sparty in scoring. In fact guard Alan Anderson [right ] has been the leading scorer, [or tied with others] 4 of the last 5 games. Either Anderson or Davis have also led MSU is rebounds in the last 7 games.
Ager is still the Wildcat Killer - he averages 15.6 ppg against the Cats and shoots 69% from the field, 16 of 19 from outside the arc. NU coach Bill Carmody jokes about how we make teams better 3 point shooters - in this case its highlighted by the numbers.
Coached by Big 10 legend Tom Izzo, the Spartans may have been surprised by Indiana [and Bracey Wright] down in Bloomington, but will still go on to play in the NCAAs again this year, and will probably be still playing one of Sunday's games at the Big 10 Tournament a week from now.
One big change in February for MSU was the change at Point - Frosh guard Drew Neitzel [left] took over the reigns of the Spartans against Iowa, 7 games ago, replacing Chris Hill. They're 6-1 with him running the floor. He's already got 70 Assists against 33 turnovers and 14 steals although he doesn't score much, yet.
Neitzel must add something more than stats to the Spartan attack, he replaced a player who averaged almost 10 points a game, and who was the team leader in 3 pointers [54 of 135] and assists  with only 37 turnovers.
Was Izzo looking to the future? The change seems to have sparked Hill's performance - he's averaged 11.1 ppg since the switch.
All and all, a tough challenge for the Wildcats at home - NU needs to win just one of the two remaining games to finish over .500.
- 4 Spartans average double figures
- They're deep - 11 players with significant playing time
- MSU averages 50% shooting or better in the 2nd half over the last 6 games.
- Freshman Point Guard Drew Neitzel - but MSU is 6-1 with him at Point.
- MSU is 5-3 on the road compared to 13-1 at home.
- Nothing significant
|The Big Gun||#13 Maurice Ager
|Deadeye Dick||#40 Paul Davis
||57.8% FG Avg*
|The Bomber||#5 Chris Hill+
||135 Trey Att/
|Off the Boards||#40 Paul Davis
||7.3 rebounds a game
|Charity Stripe||#15 Alan Anderson
||89% FT Average
|Super Sub||#23 Kelvin Torbert
||22.2 Mins/9.5 ppg
|Pickpocket||#3 Shannon Brown
# 5 Chris Hill
|34 Steals each
|Helping Hands||#5 Chris Hill
||#40 Paul Davis
||17 Blck/ 124 D Boards
* Sub Matt Trannon is hitting 73% of his shots, Alan Anderson averages 55% from the floor too.
** Ager has 100 attempts from the arc and makes 40% too.
+ Hill was replaced at point guard by Neitzel.
|Forward||#15 Alan Anderson [Sr 6-6]
||#40 Paul Davis [Jr 6-11]
|Guard||#3 Shannon Brown [So 6-4]
#12 Drew Neitzel [Fr 6-0]
# 13 Maurice Ager [Jr 6-5]
Coach Izzo gave up 6 ppg average with the PG switch to Neitzel.
|Forward||#20 Matt Trannon [Jr 6-6]
#50 Delco Rowley [So 6-8]
||# 34 Drew Naymick [So 6-10]
|Guard||#5 Chris Hill [Sr 6-3]
#23 Kelvin Torbert [Sr 6-4]
#30 Tim Bograkos [Sr 6-2]
+ With 6 Players off the bench, 2 close to 10 ppg, the Spartans don't suffer much when they substitute.
+ All 3 sub guards are Seniors - who don't turn the ball over much.
Challenges for the Wildcats:
- Send Davor Duvancic out with 57 wins - but it probably won't be easy...
- Get Vedran Vukusic to 1,000 - not that he'll need much help now that he seems to have found his 3 point stroke.
- Slow down Ager and Anderson and keep Davis off the boards - its pretty easy to write this. Not sure how easy it will be to accomplish.
- Vince Scott needs to have a big game in the middle.
- Play back to back games like we played against Michigan.
TV: ESPN+ - Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris
Radio: WGN [and XM Satellite Radio 187] with Dave [Mr. Cat] Eanet and Dave Kaplan. [Also on WJIM in Lansing]
Gametracker: NU Sports
Beat 'em All!
|Talk about it on the Purple Boards