Spartans Prepare For Tough Week

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State soon should have a better idea of how it stacks up against the nation's best basketball teams.
The fifth-ranked Spartans face Maryland in the first round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday. Michigan State will face either No. 9 Gonzaga or Oklahoma State in the second round.
The other half of the Old Spice bracket features No. 12 Tennessee, No. 21 Georgetown, Siena and Wichita State.
When the dust settles from this weekend's Florida trip, Michigan State's schedule gets even tougher.
The Spartans battle No. 1 North Carolina on Dec. 3 at Detroit's Ford Field as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The four-game stretch is potentially one of the toughest ever faced in a single week of a regular season by Michigan State (2-0) and coach Tom Izzo.
"It seems like it heats up quickly for us now, with the games we have coming up," Izzo said at his weekly Monday news conference. "But still the single biggest issue I have is my own team. That's from a standpoint of trying to shrink our playing group a little bit and get our rotation down."
Senior center Goran Suton has an injured knee that puts his status in question for this weekend and perhaps beyond, Izzo said. If Suton plays at all, his minutes likely will be limited. More won't be known about the extent and repercussions of the injury for a day or two.
The Spartans also are trying to limit minutes for freshman forward Delvon Roe, who's still recovering from a knee injury suffered in high school.
Michigan State, featuring one of the nation's most talented and deep lineups, beat overmatched Idaho and IPFW in its first two games.
Forward Raymar Morgan (21.5 points per game) became the first Spartan to open the season with back-to-back games of 20 points or more since Shawn Respert in 1992-93. Guards Kalin Lucas (15 points, six assists per game) and Chris Allen (14 points per game) also are off to good starts.
Maryland (3-0) is unbeaten but not ranked. Guard Greivis Vasquez leads the Terrapins in scoring (22.3 points per game), rebounds (7.7 per game) and assists (6 per game.)
Izzo and Maryland coach Gary Williams share an intense coaching style. Both were on a trip to Kuwait in 2006 to coach and visit U.S. military personnel.
"His nickname is `Wacko' and it's well-deserved," Izzo said of Williams. "He's a good guy. He's a coaches' coach."
The Michigan State-Maryland winner plays the Gonzaga-Oklahoma State winner on Friday. The losers of those opening round games also play Friday.
The tournament's final round is Sunday.


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