After rallying to put away Penn State, 79-63, in their Big Ten Conference opener, the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans (12-1, 1-0 Big Ten) will make their way to Bloomington, Ind. to take on the Indiana Hoosiers (10-4, 0-1).
Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 PM ET and will be televised on CBS.
The two Big Ten schools met twice last year, with the Hoosiers coming out on top of both contests. First, a 75-70 victory on January 27 in Assembly Hall behind a 21 point, 7 rebound, 6 steal, and 3 block performance from Victor Oladipo. Then a few weeks later, Indiana won again. This time in East Lansing, 72-68, behind another spirited performance from Oladipo.
However, as the two teams prepare for their first game against each other since then, Indiana does so without their top four scorers from a year ago (Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, and Jordan Hulls), while the Spartans return everyone from a year ago except for Derrick Nix.
It’s clear though for Indiana that a bulk of the scoring load has fallen upon the shoulders of sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell, who has gone from freshman role player a year ago on one of the best teams in the country, to this year, where he is the best player on the floor for the Hoosiers, averaging 17.7 points, and 4.1 assists per game.
And this fact couldn’t be any more clear for Indiana than it has in the past two games, where Ferrell has averaged 27.5 points and 4.5 assists, including a 30 point performance on 9-15 shooting last time out against Illinois, where the Hoosiers eventually fell to the Illini in overtime, 83-80.
In attempt to contain Ferrell, the Spartans will counter with one of the best defensive back courts in the country, in both senior Keith Appling and Indiana native Gary Harris, who aren’t so bad at offense either (Appling: 15.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, and Harris: 17.4 ppg).
As for the front court, Michigan State senior Adreian Payne (17.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg), and junior Branden Dawson (11.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg), will go at it inside with Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh (12.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and senior Will Sheehey (10.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
But the big thing for the Spartans coming into this game though, after a non-conference schedule filled with injuries, illnesses, and suspensions, they finally come into this game at full strength.
Several Spartans missed time over the past few weeks for various reasons or played through nagging injuries: Appling (hip-pointer), Harris (ankle), Payne (plantar faciitis), Dawson (shin bruise), Matt Costello (mononucleosis), Travis Trice (blisters on feet), & Kenny Kaminski (poor grades).
But now, with everyone expected to be available to play on Saturday, MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo told reporters after practice Thursday about how he learned from that MSU Football team that this means everyone will now have to find and play into their roles.
“Everybody’s got a role, and the best players got to really embrace their role, and to be honest with you, do their role,” he said. “You can come up with a lot of things in that football season we had, kind of the way it ended. We had some of our best receivers not even playing at the end. Some guys that were benched early became the stars later. A walk-on who never played ended up making the biggest play.”