The Spartans may use freshman defensive stopper Keith Appling on Brandon Paul, who killed MSU in the teams’ first meeting. If so, Kalin Lucas likely will see heavy time on Illinois star Demetri McCamey. Delvon Roe will try to keep Illinois PF Mike Davis quiet. Illinois does not have anyone well-suited to guard MSU’s Draymond Green.
He has been talking about it and working on it in practice, and Tom Izzo finally used some zone defense — just a little bit — late in Thursday’s win over Penn State. With a strapped perimeter group and a need to use bigger lineups, zone could give Izzo more flexibility. Most opponents have four perimeter-oriented players and one big these days, and that makes it tough to go big and play man. Still, Izzo only used the zone after the outcome was decided. The next question is, will he ever be comfortable using it when a game is still in doubt?
–As the Spartans make a push for the NCAA Tournament in the season’s final weeks, senior G Kalin Lucas is starting to look like the Lucas of old. He was averaging 22.8 points a game in his previous five games entering Tuesday’s contest at Ohio State. Lucas then scored 14 Tuesday against Ohio State. Lucas also is making a bid to become the program’s all-time leader in free throws made. He stands at 461, closing on all-time leader Paul Davis (477). Lucas did not get to the line against Ohio State.
–Junior F Draymond Green’s triple-double was the story against Penn State, but his performance also marked a change in his approach. Michigan State showed Green highlight tapes of all the damage he did inside as a sophomore, and he said after the game that he will commit to playing inside more and shooting fewer 3-pointers the rest of the season. Green is third on the team with 26 3-pointers.
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