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.