Grizzlies seek upset of 15th-ranked Spartans
East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - Seeking their first win ever against the Michigan State Spartans, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies invade East Lansing to challenge their in-state rivals in a continuation of the 2012 Spartan Showcase.
Michigan State is 10-0 all-time versus Oakland, with seven of the games taking place on the Spartans' home floor. The most recent meeting took place in December of 2010, with MSU slipping past the Grizzlies in a 77-76 final at The Palace at Auburn Hills.
Oakland is 2-3 this season, book-ending wins over Albion and Texas Southern around three straight losses to Louisiana, Boise State and Pittsburgh. The Golden Grizzlies play their basketball out of the Summit League, and after this game will face two more foes from power conferences in Tennessee (SEC) and West Virginia (Big 12) before opening league play at Western Illinois on Dec. 27.
Michigan State opened the season with a 66-62 loss to Connecticut in Germany, but came back to the States to knock off No. 7 Kansas (67-64) to restore any lost confidence. The Spartans then dismantled Texas Southern (69-41) and followed that up with a 74-70 triumph over Boise State. Coach Tom Izzo is 47-0 all-time at home during the month of November. MSU will play its first Big Ten Conference game at Minnesota on New Year's Eve.
Offensive production hasn't been Oakland's problem this season, as the team is averaging 77.6 ppg in hitting 49.4 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 37.4 percent showing from three-point range. Where the Grizzlies have struggled is in keeping the opposition from doing the same, as it does to the tune of 76.2 ppg. Despite shooting just 37.3 percent from the floor, Travis Bader leads the team in scoring with 19.0 ppg, and he is joined in double figures by Duke Mondy (16.0 ppg), Corey Petros (15.6 ppg) and Drew Valentine (11.8 ppg). Bader nailed seven three-pointers en route to 23 points and Petros added 18 in Oakland's 71-69 win over Texas Southern last time out, the team as a whole shooting 47.3 percent from the floor while allowing the Tigers to connect on 48.1 percent of their total shots, including 12-of-31 three-point tries.
Michigan State's strength is its play at the defensive end, as opponents are shooting just 39.2 percent from the field in netting 60.2 ppg. The Spartans own a favorable 7.8 rebounding margin, but they are -0.5 in turnovers. The team boasts three double-digit scorers in Keith Appling (15.5 ppg, 4.5 apg), Branden Dawson (12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.0 apg) and Gary Harris (12.0 ppg). Derrick Nix doesn't do much scoring (7.3 ppg), but performs well on the glass (8.5 rpg). Appling scored 22 points and dished out seven assists to help the Spartans get past Boise State earlier this week. Denzel Valentine tallied 12 points, while Dawson and Adreian Payne chipped in 10 points apiece for the Spartans, who shot 57.8 percent from the field, despite missing 13 of their 19 three-point attempts. They turned the ball over 18 times and went just 16- of-25 from the free throw line, which allowed the Broncos to hang around despite hitting 42 percent of their total shots.