The Boise State Broncos put their perfect record on the line against their toughest opponent to date, as they square off with the 15th-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night as part of the Spartan Showcase.
Boise State is 3-0 on the young season, but battling a team as well-rounded as Michigan State is vastly different than beating the likes of Texas Southern (81-63), Oakland (88-80) and Louisiana (63-57). The Broncos are playing their first road game of the season tonight, and in fact they will play four of their next five outside of Boise. The team opens Mountain West Conference play at Wyoming on Jan. 9, 2013.
Michigan State opened the season with a tough 66-62 loss to Connecticut in Germany, but came back to the States to topple No. 7 Kansas (67-64) to restore any lost confidence. Coach Tom Izzo's club then dismantled Texas Southern in the first game of this showcase, winning 69-41 on Sunday. Save for a bout with Texas on Dec. 22, the rest of the Spartans' non-conference schedule appears manageable. MSU will play its first Big Ten Conference game at Minnesota on New Year's Eve.
Michigan State won the only previous meeting between these two teams, taking a 71-59 decision in Boise on Nov. 29, 1982.
Boise State is averaging 77.3 ppg in hitting 44.9 percent of its total shots, but just 30.0 percent of its three-point tries. The team boasts just two double-digit scorers (Derrick Marks 16.0 ppg, Anthony Drmic 15.7 ppg), but five others average between 7.7 and 9.3 ppg. Defensively, BSU allows 66.7 ppg, with foes shooting 41.8 percent from the floor overall, and just 29.0 percent from beyond the arc. The Broncos are +8.3 in rebounding margin, with Drmic pacing the unit with his 7.3 rpg. Marks scored 14 points in the recent win over Louisiana, while Mikey Thompson came off the bench to tally 13 points and Drmic chipped in with 11. Jeff Elorriaga grabbed 10 of the team's 41 rebounds, helping offset a rather poor shooting effort that saw the Broncos convert just 38.9 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a dismal 4-of-20 effort from downtown. The Ragin' Cajuns were limited to 37.0 percent field goal efficiency, and they only made one more trey in the same number of attempts.
Michigan State hasn't exactly been an offensive juggernaut here in the early going, as the team is averaging just 66.0 ppg and three-point shots are falling a shockingly-low 25.0 percent clip (10-of-40). Even so, three Spartans are currently averaging double figures in the scoring column, led by Gary Harris and his 16.0 ppg. Keith Appling and Branden Dawson net 13.3 ppg apiece, and Derrick Nix has done a solid job on the glass with a team-high 10.0 rpg. Foes have found it extremely difficult to get into an offensive rhythm against MSU, netting a mere 57.0 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 38.4 percent overall, 28.3 percent from long range, and 68.0 percent from the free throw line. As is usually the case, the Spartans control the glass against most opponents, and they are +9.0 in rebounding margin after three games. Harris became the third different Spartan to lead the team in scoring this season, as he poured in 19 points on 7-of-10 field goal shooting in the recent rout of Texas Southern. Dawson added 13 points, and Nix pulled down 11 boards, all off the defensive glass, in 21 minutes of action as a reserve. MSU held its overmatched opponent to just 19 points in the first half, and to 21.1 percent field goal accuracy for the game, which included a woeful 5-of-31 effort from three-point range.