Hoop Preview — Michigan State

<B>Penn State vs. No. 20 Michigan State <P>Bryce Jordan Center</B> <P>The 6-7 Nittany Lions tangle with the Spartans in the Big Ten opener for both teams Wednesday night. PSU is looking for a rare win against Tom Izzo's club, which enters the contest at 8-2 on the season.

Game Time: 7:00 p.m.

Records: Penn State 6-7; Michigan State 8-2.

Coaches: Ed DeChellis is 15-26 in his second season at Penn State and 120-119 overall. Tom Izzo is 215-92 in his 10-year career, all at MSU.

Series: The Spartans lead, 20-3.

Last meeting: Michigan State continued its domination of the series with a 67-42 blowout at the BJC Feb. 28, 2004.

Last time out: Penn State lost to Texas A&M (62-60) at the BJC Sunday. MSU blasted UNC-Asheville (92-63) at home Dec. 29.

TV: ESPN-Plus (Mike Adamle, Brian Allen). The game can be seen on PBS affiliate WPSX locally and on WLAJ, WFUM and WXPS in Michigan.

Radio: Penn State Sports Network (Steve Jones, Dick Jerardi).

Next up: Penn State is off to Minnesota Saturday night. Michigan State plays host to Northwestern earlier in the day.

Probable Starters:

Penn State — G Ben Luber, 6-0 So. (5.3 ppg), G Marlon Smith, 6-0 So. (12.2 ppg), F Geary Claxton, 6-5 Fr. (10.5 ppg), F Travis Parker, 6-5 Jr. (12.3 ppg), F Aaron Johnson, 6-8 Jr. (15.6 ppg).

Michigan State — G Shannon Brown, 6-4 So. (11.8 ppg), G Chris Hill, 6-3 Sr. (10.9 ppg), F Maurice Ager, 6-5 Jr. (14.0 ppg), F Alan Anderson, 6-6 Sr. (12.3 ppg), C Paul Davis, 6-11 Jr (13.2 ppg).

Quick Quiz: When was Penn State’s last regular-season win over Michigan State?

Penn State Notes:

• DeChellis has lauded his team for playing with heart, even in losses. We’re about to see what kind of collective ticker the Lions have. The last three meetings in this series have all been PSU rollovers. With that in mind, Johnson, one of the few Lions who has not backed down from the Spartans, is happy there are so many new faces on his roster this year.

“All the players that left, they weren’t exactly the toughest-minded people in the world,” Johnson said. “We do have a tough team now. … I’m not gonna be pushed around. I refuse to be pushed around by anybody. A lot of the guys have the same mentality. If we do that against Michigan State, we’ll be fine.”

• Expect Luber to stay in the starting lineup for this one. He’s a better defender at the point than freshman Mike Walker, which will be a key against MSU’s talented backcourt.

• State spent part of Monday’s practice going through no-holds-barred rebounding drills in an effort to prepare for the Spartans’ physical style. The Lions were also put through more wind sprints than usual to prepare for Michigan State’s superior transition game.

• Johnson’s seven double-doubles this year lead the Big Ten.

• Stat watch: The Lions are 2-12 all-time in Big Ten openers.

Michigan State Notes:

• Penn State fans looking for hope can take solace in the following numbers: Izzo is 5-4 in Big Ten openers, and 1-4 when those games are on the road.

• Hill leads the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.29-1).

• Spartan reserve and ace defender Kelvin Torbert needs only six points to reach 1,000 for his career.

• This will be only the fifth game for Michigan State since Dec. 6.

• Stat Watch: Michigan State is 7-0 this season when committing fewer turnovers than its opponents and 1-2 when committing more.

Quiz Answer: The Lions beat the Spartans 54-50 at the Jordan Center Feb. 10, 1996. It was Izzo’s first year at the helm of MSU. In the 13 games since, PSU’s only win was in the 2001 Big Ten tournament (65-63).

FOS Prediction: Michigan State 78, Penn State 65

Comment: The Lions have only three players with serious Big Ten experience. That’s not enough against a great program and a great coach.

FOS Prediction Record: 7-6.

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