Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans and Marquette Golden Eagles will collide in semifinal action of the Orlando Classic on Friday at the HP Field House.
The winner of this game will move into the championship game and take on either Kansas or Tennessee.
Tom Izzo's Spartans have lost just once this season and that was a 10-point setback to powerhouse Duke (81-71) as part of the Champions Classic. Michigan State has put that loss in the rearview mirror however, with lopsided wins over Loyola Chicago (87-52), Santa Clara (79-52) and most recently, Rider (77-45) on Thursday in this event.
Steve Wojciechowski is in his first season as head coach at Marquette. The Golden Eagles have now moved over .500 at 3-2 on the year. The team came into this tournament with wins over UT Martin (79-63) and NJIT (62-57) bracketing losses to Ohio State (74-63) and Nebraska Omaha (97-89). On Thursday, Marquette was able to hold off a tough Georgia Tech team and prevail, 72-70.
These two teams have some history, with this representing the 55th all-time meeting. Michigan State holds a 31-23 series advantage.
The Spartans made light work of Rider in Thursday's tournament action, as they held the Broncs to their lowest scoring output in two seasons. MSU held Rider to a mere four first-half field goals and never looked back from there. The Broncs managed to shoot an anemic .258 from the floor in the game, including just 1-of-13 from behind the arc (.077). Meanwhile, Michigan State had four players notch double-digit point totals, starting with Denzel Valentine's 19 points. Bryn Forbes checked in with 15 points, while Travis Trice and Gavin Schilling tallied 10 points apiece.
Michigan State is getting it done with offensive efficiency and stifling defense this season. The team is shooting a scorching .505 from the floor overall and putting up 75.6 ppg, while giving up just 57.8 and holding foes well under 40 percent accuracy from the floor (.361). Although he didn't have his best game of the season against Rider, Trice still paces the team with 16.4 points and 6.4 assists per game. Valentine is next in the scoring column with 12.4 ppg, followed closely by Branden Dawson and his 12.0 ppg. Further depth comes in the form of Forbes (9.4 ppg) and Marvin Clark Jr. (9.0 ppg).
It was Matt Carlino's day to shine for Marquette as the BYU transfer erupted for a career-high 38 points against Georgia Tech on Thursday. All eight of Carlino's field goals came behind the arc (8-of-14), while he went 14-of-16 at the free-throw line as well. Juan Anderson was a distant second for Marquette in the scoring column, finishing with 12 points in the narrow victory.
Marquette hasn't left much of a cushion in terms of scoring margin, as the team is sitting at +0.8 through five games. The Golden Eagles are averaging 73.0 ppg on .440 shooting, but have allowed the opposition to shoot a much more efficient .498 overall. Anderson leads the team in both scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) and is shooting a healthy 630 from the field. Carlino's big game has pushed him into second on the team in scoring at 14.4 ppg, followed by Duane Wilson's 10.6 ppg.