Michigan State Basketball: No.15 Spartans set to take on Boise State in a battle of guard play

EAST LANSING — After playing their first two games of the season on the road, the Michigan State Spartans (2-1, 0-0) will welcome Boise State (3-0, 0-0) in the second of a four game home stretch.

The Spartans are coming off a 69-41 victory over Texas Southern on Sunday in which freshman guard Gary Harris led the team with 19 points and continued to show why he was one of the top recruits in the 2012 class.

Harris is currently leading the team in scoring with an average of 16 points per game, and he is one of three players  in MSU history to score in double figures in their first three games (Sam Vincent and Raymar Morgan being the other two).

However, the freshman isn’t just putting up numbers, he is playing very efficient basketball. In his last two games, Harris is a combined 14-of-22 from the field which is a field goal percentage of about 64 percent. He also has shot decently well from the 3-point line in those two games with a percentage of about 43 percent.

Keith Appling, Harris’ backcourt mate, has been impressive thus far in the season as well. The junior who shot 25 percent from the 3-point line last year is now shooting about 56 percent to start the season. He also leads the Spartans in assists with an average of 3.7 per game.

While the combo of Harris and Appling has been one of the more dynamic backcourts in the Big Ten, Boise State has a very solid guard combo as well.

Sophomore Derrick Marks has been a stud for the Broncos through their first three games. Marks leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg) and assists (3.7 apg), and he also is second in steals (1.7 spg).

If Michigan State junior Adreian Payne can stay out of foul trouble against Boise State on Tuesday he will have a huge game.

Anthony Drmic, sophomore combo guard-forward from Australia, is another solid do-it-all player for the Broncos. Drmic leads the team in rebounds with an average of 7.3 per game, and is second to Marks in scoring (15.7 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg). As a unit, the Broncos shoot 30 percent from beyond the arc, and Drmic leads the team with 38 percent.

My guess is that the 6-6 Drmic will be guarded by 6-6 MSU sophomore Branden Dawson, the team’s most athletic player, which will make for one interesting duel on both ends of the floor.

Unfortunately for Boise, the Broncos are not as blessed in the paint, as Ryan Watkins is the only player over 6-9 on the team that averages more than 5 minutes.

If MSU big man Adreian Payne can stay out of foul trouble, something that he hasn’t been able to do this season, he¬† should have a field day on the glass and on the offensive end of the floor. Senior big man Derrick Nix has gobbled 30 rebounds in three games, and if he plays smart, there is no reason why he can’t extend that total to 40 Tuesday night.

If MSU is going to win this game it’s going to be in the paint and with points off turnovers, something I’m sure head coach Tom Izzo doesn’t mind one bit.

On a side note, Boise State has also played Texas Southern this season and defeated them 81-63. The Broncos average 77.3 ppg, ranks 78th in the nation, and the Spartans only allow 55.7 ppg. Boise State is a good offensive team, but they haven’t seen a defense or a team like that of MSU’s, so it will be interesting to see how this offense will perform.

 

Prediction

Michigan State 71

Boise State 54

The Michigan State Spartans will dominate in the paint and cause a lot of turnovers against a Boise State offense that hasn’t faced a team of MSU’s caliber yet this season. Watch for Adreian Payne to have a monstrous game if he can stay out of foul trouble — which I think he will — and I’m thinking the big fella will have 17 points and 10 rebounds. He has to have a breakout game sometime…right?