East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - The No. 15 Michigan State Spartans will
try to take down their 67th unranked non-conference opponent in a row when
they host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at the Breslin Center.
The Ragin' Cajuns fell to 2-3 their last time out as they suffered a 22-point
setback to New Mexico State. Their only win over a Division I opponent came in
their season-opening bout with Oakland (90-79). Louisiana then went on a two-
game slide which consisted of a couple of hard-fought setbacks at Texas
Southern (74-71 OT) and Boise State (63-57). The streak ended with a win over
Southern-New Orleans, but the team could not string together wins. Bob Marlin,
now 32-34 in his third year at Louisiana.
The amount of success Tom Izzo has found as Michigan State's coach over the
past 17 seasons is rivaled by very few. His Spartans always seem to be a
contender to win the NCAA Championship, and this year is no different.
Although MSU opened up the season with a 66-62 loss to the now Kevin Ollie led
Connecticut Huskies, it bounced back with a three-point win over a top ten
Kansas Jayhawks team. Then the team reeled off three wins in a row in the
Spartan Showcase at Breslin, all versus unranked non-conference foes. The
Spartans easily cruised past Texas Southern and Oakland, but narrowly survived
their matchup with Boise State (74-70) after converting just 6-of-19 attempts
from beyond the arc and 16-of-25 at the charity stripe.
The all-time series between Michigan State and Louisiana is tied with each
team winning once. These teams have not squared off since 1982.
Louisiana fell behind 10-0 to NMSU its last time out and could never erase the
deficit. The Cajuns shot just 18.5 percent from the floor in the first half
and was dominated on the glass by a 52-30 margin. Mississippi State transfer
Shawn Long has become the centerpiece of the team in his first year with the
program. The 6-foot-9, 243-pound power forward paces the squad with 15 points,
7.6 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. Sophomore point guard Elfrid Payton
adds 10.8 points and 5.2 assists per contest, but he is not going to be
settling for too many jumpers (37.7 FG). Brant Mbamalu is a consistent third
Michigan State's high level of competition early on has given it a scoring
average of 68.4 ppg on 48.5 percent shooting from the field. The team is just
19-of-70 from three-point range, which could lead the trouble down the road if
not improved. However, Michigan State has outrebounded all of its opponents,
which are netting only 58.6 ppg. The Spartans are charged by junior point
guard Keith Appling, who is posting a team-high 16.4 ppg while dishing out
four apg. The team is 5-1 in games he scores 20 points or more. While the
highly talented freshman guard Gary Harris recovers from a shoulder injury,
Branden Dawson (11.2 ppg) and Denzel Valentine (6.8 ppg) will need to play
bigger roles. Senior center Derrick Nix is a big reason why MSU dominates the
glass as he is grabbing 8.2 rpg.
The Sports Network