Coral Gables, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami-Florida Hurricanes play host to
the 13th-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday night as part of this
year's version of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Michigan State began the season with the Armed Forces Classic in Germany, and
it lost to UConn, 66-62. Since then however, the Spartans have lived up to
their national ranking with five straight wins, highlighted by a 67-64 victory
over Kansas. They experienced a scare the last time out at home against
Louisiana, but managed to escape with a 63-60 win.
Miami will be trying for a perfect three-game homestand on Wednesday night
after claiming wins against Jacksonville (73-57) and Detroit (77-62). The
Hurricanes also won at home against Stetson on opening night (87-79), leaving
them with an unbeaten mark at BankUnited Center.
This bout marks the initial meeting between Michigan State and Miami in men's
In typical Michigan State fashion, it has started the season by playing solid,
fundamental basketball at both ends of the court. Not only is the team
shooting 47.6 percent from the field, but it's limiting the opposition to just
37.3 percent, while outscoring those same foes by nearly nine points per game.
Things were a little tighter against Louisiana, as the Spartans shot just 42.6
percent from the field and saw their double-digit advantage shrink down to do
just two in the final minute of the game, but they managed to hold on without
surrendering the lead. Keith Appling had a sub par night shooting (4-of-11),
but he made 10-of-12 attempts at the free throw line en route to 19 points
while adding five assists, two blocks and two steals. The junior guard is
undoubtedly the team's catalyst as he scores 16.8 ppg while also recording
team-bests in assists (4.2 apg), steals (2.0 spg), three-point baskets (10),
and three-point percentage (.435). Gary Harris (12.0 ppg) is the Spartans'
next-leading scorer, but he is expected to miss another one-to-two weeks with
a shoulder injury. Branden Dawson (11.3 ppg), Derrick Nix (8.0 ppg), and
Adreian Payne (7.8 ppg) are all assets in the rebounding battle with each
grabbing at least 6.5 rpg.
Miami has also gotten off to a fast start shooting the ball, draining more
than 47 percent of its field goal attempts, and it received a huge boost in
the last game with the return of one of its star players. After missing the
first four games due to suspension, Durand Scott made his season debut against
Detroit and tallied 15 points on 6-of-9 from the field. Scott, a senior who
has averaged at least 10.3 ppg every season, will be key if the Hurricanes
want to make a run at an NCAA Tournament berth. Also scoring in double figures
in the win was Shane Larkin with 15 points, Trey McKinney Jones had 13, and
Kenny Kadji logged a double-double consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The balanced scoring effort was no accident, as five players average at least
11.5 ppg for the 'Canes, paced by Shane Larkin with 17.3 ppg on greater than
58 percent shooting. Reggie Johnson (11.7 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and Kadji (11.5 ppg,
8.8 rpg) are crucial components in the paint, while McKinney Jones (11.5 ppg)
has knocked down all 12 of his free throw attempts so far.
The Sports Network