Valparaiso (1-2) at (23) Michigan State (3-0)

Cloudy Currently: East Lansing, MI
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 12:00 pm EST Sun Nov 22, 2009
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With one more victory, Tom Izzo will move into a tie atop Michigan State’s all-time list.

Izzo, however, is likely more concerned about getting a better effort from the second-ranked Spartans as they host Valparaiso in the Legends Classic on Sunday.

The Michigan State coach earned his 339th victory—one shy of former mentor Jud Heathcote—with Friday night’s 75-62 home win over Toledo, but Izzo wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.

The Spartans (3-0) shot a respectable 45.5 percent but were 4 of 17 from 3-point range. They also barely outrebounded the winless Rockets 44-40.

“I’m very disappointed in how we played,” he said. “It was not a very good performance and the blame should fall strictly on me. It’s my team, and I wasn’t very happy with them.”

Izzo’s team still had five players score in double figures, led by Draymond Green’s 15 points. Fellow sophomore forward Delvon Roe added 10 and matched a career high with 11 rebounds.

However, even their performances didn’t escape Izzo’s criticism as he felt his post players were selfish.

“It looks to me a little bit fat and sassy,” he said. “We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”

The Spartans will try to improve against a struggling Valparaiso team that’s lost each of its first two road games by double digits against Division I opponents. The Crusaders (1-2) bounced back with a 78-56 home victory Friday night over Indiana-South Bend, an NAIA school.

Brandon McPherson, Valparaiso’s lone senior, was 5 of 6 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 25 points. McPherson, who has consecutive 20-point performances, is second on the team in scoring (18.7 points per game) behind sophomore guard Brandon Wood’s 22.3 ppg.

Valparaiso, picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Horizon League, has lost 27 straight to ranked opponents dating back to a last-second win over Mississippi in the 1998 NCAA tournament.

That includes an 88-77 loss at No. 6 North Carolina on Nov. 15. The Crusaders hit 12 3-pointers in that game, including six from Wood during a 30-point performance.

The Spartans, meanwhile, are seeking their 43rd straight home win over a nonconference opponent, a run that started after a loss to Duke on Dec. 3, 2003.

Izzo will also try to improve to 38-0 all-time in November home games, but he might not have Raymar Morgan available again. The senior forward dressed against Toledo but did not play because of injuries to both ankles.

Morgan scored 16 points off the bench in Tuesday’s 75-71 win over visiting Gonzaga despite hurting his right ankle in the first half.

“We’re not that good without him,” Izzo said. “We need to get him back.”

The previous meeting between the schools came during Michigan State’s run to the 2000 national title. The Spartans opened the NCAA tournament with 65-38 victory over the Crusaders.

After facing Valparaiso, Michigan State will head to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Legends Classic championship round, which begins Nov. 27 against Florida. The Spartans would face Rutgers or Massachusetts the next evening.

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