Michigan State has played well on the road this season. That hasn’t been the case in recent visits to Big Ten rival Michigan.
The No. 9 Spartans look to remain perfect on the road Tuesday night while trying to avoid a third straight loss to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State (19-4, 9-2) is 6-0 in true road games, joining Connecticut, Louisville and Utah State as the only undefeated Division I teams on the road.
Coming off a pair of home victories, the Big Ten-leading Spartans face Michigan (15-9, 5-6) for the only time this season. Michigan State has won 15 of the last 18 in the series, but the Wolverines have won the last two at Crisler Arena—including a 67-56 win Feb. 27, 2007, in the most recent game there.
Michigan, though, enters this contest having lost six of its last eight games overall. The Wolverines face their second straight Top 25 opponent after falling 69-61 at No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday.
“Now we turn around and get our great rival (Michigan State),” said Michigan coach John Beilein, whose team is 12-2 at home.
Kalin Lucas had 18 points in the Spartans’ 77-62 victory at home over the Wolverines in the teams only meeting last season.
The sophomore’s play has paced Michigan State’s success on the road, where he’s averaging 19.5 points—4.7 more than his season average. Lucas, though, was held to 10 points in each of Michigan State’s last two wins, most recently its 75-47 rout of Indiana on Saturday.
Though Michigan State shot 42.4 percent from the field and 6-for-21 from 3-point range, its defense held Indiana to 31.0 percent shooting. It was another dominating defensive effort for the Spartans limited then-No. 19 Minnesota to 28.8 percent in a 76-47 victory Wednesday.
“That is why defense wins. In all, we need to shoot better if we are going to make a run at this (Big Ten) Championship,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
The Spartans are expected to be without second-leading scorer and rebounder Raymar Morgan (12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) for a third straight game due to a virus, walking pneumonia and a mild case of mononucleosis.
Michigan State may be forced to rely on its bench, which scored 42 points versus the Hoosiers. Chris Allen had 16 points while freshman Draymond Green, who entered Saturday’s game averaging 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, had season highs of 15 and 12, respectively.
Senior forward Goran Suton, who scored 12 points against Indiana, had 11 and 10 rebounds at Michigan two years ago.
Michigan freshman Stu Douglass had 20 points and went 6-for-8 from 3-point range against UConn, while leading scorer Manny Harris added 15 for the Wolverines, who led by one at halftime.
“We feel like we let one get away,” said Harris, who is second in the Big Ten averaging 17.5 points, but was held to 11 on 4-for-14 shooting in last season’s loss to the Spartans. “That would definitely have built our (NCAA tournament) resume.”
Michigan has won two straight Big Ten games at home, including 71-51 over Penn State on Thursday.