East Lansing, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Reeling from a shocking upset, the Michigan State Spartans will try to regroup on Monday when they entertain The Citadel Bulldogs at the Breslin Center,
The Citadel comes in sporting a 4-6 record, and the team has lost two straight, three of its last four and four of its last six. A 64-61 setback at Virginia Tech was the most recent disappointment for a club that is slated to get into the meat of its Southern Conference schedule when it plays at Western Carolina on Jan. 3.
Prior to the season, Michigan State was considered to be one of the elite teams not only in the Big Ten Conference, but the nation as well. While they have won eight games, the Spartans have faltered in their biggest tests -- losing to Duke (81-71), Kansas (61-56) and Notre Dame (79-78 OT).
Their latest outing however, will go down as one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, as coach Tom Izzo's club dropped a 71-64 overtime decision to visiting Texas Southern on Saturday, putting an end to MSU's modest three-game win streak. The Tigers entered that clash with a record of 1-8.
Michigan State leads the all-time series with The Citadel, 3-0, with all three meetings taking place since the 2006-07 season. MSU is 15-0 all-time against teams from the Southern Conference.
Ashton Moore drained seven 3-pointers en route to 27 points, as he almost single-handedly led The Citadel to a victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday. Jake Wright added 12 points for the Bulldogs, who hit 13 treys in the contest, but shot just 33.9 percent from the field overall. They turned the ball over only seven times and held the Hokies to a miserable 3-of-16 showing from beyond the arc. VaTech had only seven miscues as well, and the home team logged a 15-6 advantage in points from the foul line.
Moore continues to pace The Citadel with his 17.1 ppg, despite shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor. P.J. Horgan (12.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is the top rebounder and the only other double-digit scorer for a unit that is putting up 64.2 ppg, shooting a respectable 45.1 percent from the field, which includes a 39.3 percent effort from distance. The Bulldogs have played solid defense for the most part, yielding a mere 60.3 ppg.
Michigan State was its own worst enemy in the embarrassing loss to Texas Southern over the weekend, as the team shot just 39.3 percent from the floor, missing the mark on 17 of its 21 3-point attempts along the way. A dismal 12- of-21 performance at the free-throw line also played a role, as did the fact that the Tigers made good on 53.2 percent of their total shots and outscored their hosts in the paint (36-32), off turnovers (15-4), and in bench points (38-26). The Spartans lost the game despite logging a 40-28 advantage on the glass. Matt Costello posted a double-double consisting of 17 points and 10 rebounds for MSU, while Denzel Valentine tacked on 15 points.
Michigan State boasts four double-digit scorers in Valentine (14.2 ppg), Travis Trice (13.5 ppg), the injured Branden Dawson (10.8 ppg) and Bryn Forbes (10.4 ppg). The team as a whole is averaging 74.4 ppg while allowing only 60.6 ppg, and it is also on the plus side of the ledger with regard to FG percentage (.485 to .375), 3-point FG percentage (.423 to .279) and rebounds (+8.7). The Spartans are in the red in turnover differential (-1.2), but that's mainly because they goad the opposition into fewer than a dozen giveaways per contest. Another area they need improve is at the charity stripe, as they are converting only 62.2 percent of their tries.