Boise St.-Michigan St. Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 19, 2012
After some taxing travel around the world to open the season, Michigan State returned to East Lansing and got off to a solid start in the Spartan Showcase. The 15th-ranked Spartans have never lost at home in November under coach Tom Izzo, and they'll look to extend that run Tuesday night against Boise State. Michigan State (2-1) opened with a 66-62 loss to now-No. 21 Connecticut on Nov. 9 in Germany before upsetting then-No. 7 Kansas 67-64 in Atlanta last Tuesday, spending only two days at home between games. Things got a little easier with a 69-41 win over Texas Southern in the home opener Sunday, the first game of the five-team round-robin tournament. Branden Dawson finished with 13 points and six rebounds while freshman Gary Harris followed his 18-point performance against Kansas by shooting 7 of 10 and scoring 19 for Michigan State, which began a stretch of five games in 11 days. Following the Spartan Showcase, it travels to face Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. "It feels good to finally be at home, but Coach Izzo is trying to test us," Harris said. "We just have to be mentally ready to play and step on their toes before they step on ours." The Spartans are 68-3 all-time at home in November and 46-0 in such games since Izzo took over the program prior to the 1995-96 season. They seem poised to keep that streak running, but Izzo said there's still room for improvement as he tries to figure out combinations within his deep squad. Alex Gauna started in place of Derrick Nix on Sunday, though Izzo said it was only because he wanted to try a different lineup. "It wasn't a great performance," Izzo said. "I'm still at a stage of trying to figure out who's going to be in the playing group. We had 10 guys play 12 minutes or more, which is almost impossible to do." Michigan State held Texas Southern to 21.1 percent shooting, which may not bode well for a Boise State team getting its first road test after shooting only 38.9 percent while escaping with a 63-57 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday. Coach Leon Rice said the game "wasn't pretty," but Derrick Marks scored a game-high 14 points and Mikey Thompson added 13 off the bench for the Broncos, who have won their first three games for the third straight season. Each victory has come within the Spartan Showcase event, as they beat Texas Southern 81-63 on Nov. 11 before an 88-80 win over Oakland last Tuesday. Boise State is bound to have a more difficult time with the Spartans, having lost its last eight against ranked opponents since a win over No. 21 Utah State on Feb. 14, 2009. It hasn't knocked off a Top 25 team on the road since beating No. 24 Nevada on March 10, 2005. Michigan State won the only previous meeting between the teams on Nov. 29, 1982, in Boise, Idaho. The schools did meet on the football field this season, with the Spartans beating the Broncos 17-13 on Aug. 31.
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