Michigan St.-The Citadel Preview

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo might have been displeased with

his team’s latest effort, but he can’t be unhappy about how Raymar

Morgan has played lately.

Based on his performance against The Citadel last season, Morgan

could continue his stellar play for the 12th-ranked Spartans on

Monday night in Charleston, S.C.

After falling at then-No. 10 North Carolina to open this month,

Michigan State (6-2) put together a sluggish performance in a home

win over unheralded Wofford on Friday night. The Spartans fell

behind 9-4 in the first five minutes and led by just two with 12:47

remaining before pulling away for the 72-60 victory.

“Oh, how I wish this was HBO,” Izzo said after the game. “I

thought their team played with a lot of heart. And I don’t think

mine did. … We’ve got a lot of guys not playing very well and

some not playing well at all. We’ve got to start playing for the

name on the front of the uniform and not the name on the back.”

It’s doubtful Izzo was talking about Morgan, who had a

season-high 19 points and 11 rebounds while going 7 for 11 from the

field. Since missing all seven shots in a scoreless performance

against Florida on Nov. 27, the senior forward has averaged 18.0

points and shot 71.0 percent (22 of 31) over the past three

games.

Morgan, who has overcome injuries to both ankles, has a good

chance to continue his resurgence against The Citadel (6-4). He had

one of the best performances of his career as the Spartans beat the

Bulldogs 79-65 at home last season, scoring 26 points on 11-of-12

shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. Durrell Summers and Chris Allen

added 12 points apiece off the bench.

Morgan also hit three of his four shots and scored 10 points in

Michigan State’s first meeting with The Citadel, a 73-41 win on

Nov. 12, 2006. That was the third game of Morgan’s college

career.

This time, the Spartans will face one of the nation’s best

defensive teams in the Bulldogs, who are allowing 57.2 points per

game.

There’s also plenty of buzz on their campus as they prepare to

host a ranked team for the first time in 11 seasons.

“This is a game that our students, fans and alumni should

embrace and remember for a long time,” coach Ed Conroy told the

school’s Web site. “Michigan State is among college basketball’s

elite every year and we are excited to compete against them in

front of our home fans.”

The Bulldogs, however, are 0-5 all-time at home against AP Top

25 teams and 0-33 overall, including a 69-50 loss at No. 8 West

Virginia on Nov. 24.

Their chances for a monumental upset will likely depend on

whether junior guards Zach Urbanus and Cameron Wells can continue

their respective scoring streaks.

Urbanus is trying to score 20 or more points for the fourth

straight game after leading the team with 20 in Saturday’s 68-43

victory over visiting Georgia Southern. Wells, leading The Citadel

with 17.4 points per game, added 14 to reach double figures for the

14th consecutive game dating to last season.

Wells scored 14 points in last season’s loss to the Spartans,

while Urbanus had three. Swingman Austin Dahn, now a junior, led

the Bulldogs with 17.

In its second consecutive matchup against a Southern Conference

team, Michigan State will try to improve to 7-0 all-time against

the league.