East Lansing, MI
The #2 Michigan State Spartans opened the 2013-2014 officially this evening and they were not good hosts. McNeese State from Lake Charles, LA was their guest and the Spartans showed no signs of Southern hospitality. The Spartans took care of business 98-56, even with a showdown in Chicago with #1 Kentucky looming on Tuesday.
The Spartans looked and played like one of the nation’s elite teams. Super sophomore Gary Harris had his first career double double, droppig 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was one of three Spartans with double-doubles. Adreian Payne had 10 boards and 10 points and Branden Dawson had 12 boards and 12 points and a career high five assists.
Izzo said of his three stars performance that, “When you get three guys with a double doubt, five or six guys in double figures, I think there are a lot of positives.”
McNeese State head coach Dave Simmons said of the trio of Spartan success, “They are really good. We knew he (Harris) was a preseason All American coming in. Harris is a very good player. I know he is young, but the future is bright for this program. They deserve the preseason rankings.”
It was a good night all around in the stats department for Michigan State. 15 Spartans played, 11 of them significantly. Travis Trice led with eight assists and he did that off the bench.
Perhaps bigger than the Harris double-double and the big win was Izzo’s decision to NOT redshirt freshman Alvin Ellis III. Izzo said of the decision that, “Something we talked to Alvin about. I think Alvin wanted to do it and I had mixed feelings. He just kind of wanted to be a bigger part of this team. It is all good. Alvin can play. He is gonna help us.”
Ellis said of the decision, “I knew it wasn’t going to be a lot of minutes. It was an easy decision. I didn’t want to redshirt.
The Spartans did a good job of not looking ahead to Kentucky. But as soon as the game was over they took no time to savor it. Their eyes turned to the Big Blue Nation.
In fact it was the McNeese Coach who brought the Kentucky game up first. He said, “I am looking forward to watching them on Tuesday.”
Izzo said of facing Kentucky on Tuesday, “Now we get to do something that I have been waiting a long time to do. It’s going to be what it is. We are going to have some problems with them and they are going to have some problems matching up with us. It is going to be a great night of college basketball and I am looking forward to it. ”
So how big is Tuesday night? Izzo expounded saying, “Jud called me. He is going to stay up past six o’clock to watch the game.” He went on to be asked about UK Coach Calipari’s comments that his young Wildcat team playing and experienced MSU team so early in the season is, “Unfair.” Izzo said, “I agree, he should forfeit.”