MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (5-1)
at MIAMI (FL) HURRICANES (3-1)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -1.5, Total: 127.5
Miami has a shot for an early-season signature win when its hosts No. 13 Michigan State as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge on Wednesday night.
The veteran Hurricanes are finally getting their full lineup intact, as their two best players—PG Durand Scott and C Reggie Johnson—returned from suspension and injury, respectively in a solid 15-point home win over Detroit on Saturday. Tom Izzo has put his Spartans through a typically tough early-season slate, as they’ve already lost to Connecticut in Germany and beaten Kansas in Atlanta.
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With Scott and Johnson back in the lineup on Saturday, the Hurricanes cruised to a win over Detroit, one of the nation’s better mid-major teams. Scott scored 15 in his season debut, while Johnson came off the bench for seven points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. Sophomore SG Shane Larkin carried the Canes offensively during Scott’s absence, averaging 17.3 PPG on 58.1% FG and 44.4% from three-point range.
With PF Draymond Green now in the NBA, the Spartans have shifted the focus of their team to the backcourt and PG Keith Appling. The junior is averaging 16.8 PPG while getting into the lane and to the free-throw line frequently (83.3% FT on 5.0 FTA per game). Appling has averaged 20.3 PPG over the Spartans’ past three games. Swingman Branden Dawson, returning from a torn ACL, has given them a major boost defensively. The Spartans are allowing just 58.8 PPG and 37.3% FG through their first six games. And they are getting efficient low-post play from C Derrick Nix and PF Adreian Payne, averaging a combined 15.8 PPG on 61.0% FG. It’s helped make up for poor shooting early on, as the Spartans are averaging just 4.0 threes per game on 27.9% 3-pt FG.
The status of freshman combo guard Gary Harris is a big factor tonight. He averaged 16.0 PPG over the first three games of the year, including 18 points in the Kansas win, before suffering a shoulder injury in the first minute of their win over Boise State last week. He’s missed the past two games, but is optimistic he’ll play against Miami.