Michigan State has played three games away from home in its first six games this season. Now, it’s about to play its first away game.
The No. 9 Spartans (5-1) take on Louisville (3-2) in a Tuesday night ACC/Big Ten challenge game at the KFC Yum! Center.
And as away games go, the Spartans are starting with one in the third-largest college basketball venue at the country, with 22,000 seats, against a historically strong program with a large fan base.
Compared to the Spartans’ last two games in Las Vegas, which featured a considerable contingent of Michigan State fans in the crowd, Tuesday will be a different challenge.
“There’ll be 20,000 against us, and that’s an adjustment sometimes, especially for the young kids,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
The Spartans came away from those two games in Las Vegas with two wins, a tournament championship, a five-game win streak and a top 10 ranking. The tournament championship, in particular, is something Izzo hopes will help his team lead to championships down the road.
#B1GACC Challenge tonight live from Louisville ‼️
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) November 27, 2018
That’s led Izzo to one question about his team heading into Tuesday’s game.
“Can we accept a little bit of success?” Izzo said on Monday.
Michigan State has found that success due to some strong shooting, particularly from guard tandem Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford, who are both averaging better than 18 points.
It’s done so because improved defense after giving up at least 82 points in its first two games. Izzo credited Nick Ward for guarding ball screens in addition to the low post, his perimeter players for keeping up with quicker opposing guards and his assistants for working tirelessly at a quick defensive turnaround.
“We just sat down and said ‘We’re not going to do this,'” Izzo said. “And I was on them hard, self-admitted.”
The Spartans have also rebounded better than Izzo said he expected, with Kenny Goins leading the way at nine rebounds per game.
The biggest point of emphasis entering Tuesday’s game is the Spartans’ turnovers. The Spartans are averaging a Big Ten-high 14.1, after turning the ball over 24 times against Texas on Friday.
“I thought we had been doing a great job with our turnovers for three or four games in a row,” Izzo said. “I didn’t think we came out ready and that’s my fault, but I also thought that the athletic ability of Texas bothered us.”
Louisville enters the game following consecutive losses, but Izzo pointed out that one of those losses came by 11 to No. 6 Tennessee and the other came in overtime to Marquette after the Cardinals had multiple chances to win in regulation.
Izzo highlighted Cardinals forward Jordan Nwora as an “exceptional” player, who comes off the bench to lead the team in scoring at 18 points, in a role Izzo compared to that of former Spartans great Morris Peterson.
“It’s going to be part of this growth process that we’re working on all year long,” Izzo said. “Can we get by another hurdle, can we put another experience in the book? That’s kind of what the preseason is for, and trust me this will be a big, big stop on the way.”
This article is written by Kyle Austin from MLive.com, Walker, Mich. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.