Michigan St.-Bowling Green Preview

Although his young team’s upcoming trip doesn’t seem too
daunting, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he’s still wary of
each game left on this season’s schedule.

The 20th-ranked Spartans will try to avoid another lackluster
performance away from home Tuesday night when they visit Bowling
Green for the first time since getting upset there 22 years
ago.

Although it knocked off then-No. 7 Kansas 67-64 in Atlanta on
Nov. 13, Michigan State (9-2) is just 1-2 away from East
Lansing.

The Spartans have averaged 62.7 points on 42.7 percent shooting
outside of their own arena compared with 75.1 points and 50.2
percent shooting in eight home games. They lost 67-59 to Miami in
their last road game Nov. 28.

Those efforts from the Spartans, who have one senior and 11
underclassmen on the roster, are perhaps what drove Izzo to declare
that there aren’t any more easy games left following Saturday’s
92-56 win over Tuskegee.

Michigan State hosts Texas on Saturday before opening Big Ten
play Dec. 31 at No. 13 Minnesota.

“I’m excited that now we move into the point of time in our year
when there are no more games we just should win,” Izzo told the
school’s official website. “Now every game is going to be a
dogfight. It gets a lot tougher.”

Michigan State wouldn’t appear to have a fight in store from
Bowling Green (5-4), a program that’s experienced two winning
seasons since 2001-02 and hasn’t appeared in the NCAA tournament
since 1968.

The Falcons have won four of five at home, with the lone defeat
coming 58-49 to Youngstown State on Dec. 1. They’ve shot no better
than 38.0 percent in each of their three games this month, going 9
of 45 (20.0 percent) from 3-point range.

Bowling Green, though, won the last two of those games by giving
up less than 43 points in each, the first time that’s happened
since Dec. 22-27, 1949. The Falcons defeated Samford 57-42 in their
last game Dec. 8.

Jordon Crawford, who leads the Falcons with 16.3 points per
game, scored a team-best 14 in that win despite missing 13 of 17
shots.

Crawford and A’uston Calhoun, averaging 16.1 points and a
team-best 7.0 rebounds, combined for 23 points and 11 boards in a
74-60 loss at then-No. 21 Michigan State on Dec. 17, 2011.

Derrick Nix and Branden Dawson were among four Michigan State
players to score in double figures in that matchup, but Keith
Appling finished with three. The Spartans leading scorer at 15.5
points per game, Appling heads into this meeting after matching a
career high with 25 points Saturday.

Michigan State has won four straight in the series since a 98-85
loss at Bowling Green on Dec. 1, 1990, when the Spartans were
ranked fifth.

That was Michigan State’s third upset at the hands of the
Falcons, but the Spartans have won the past three meetings when
ranked.