MSU looks for best start in school history against a dangerous Oakland team
No. 1 ranked MSU (12-0) will attempt to accomplish its best start in school history Tuesday night as they take on the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies (7-3) at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Oakland will attempt to make history of their own against MSU Tuesday, as MSU is 13-0 all-time against Oakland, including holding a 3-0 all-time record in games played at The Palace.
"With Drew on their staff, Valentine, I think they'll know everything about us, but we know a lot about them too, and there's not going to be any surprises," MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. "The good news is I hear we're playing in front of a capacity crowd there... so it should be a terrific environment."
The two teams last played at The Palace in 2013, with MSU winning 67-63 in a tightly contested game which also featured a top-5 ranked MSU team.
Both teams are coming off of big wins, with Oakland defeating the Washington Huskies 97-83 and MSU pulling away from Northeastern late in the game for a 78-58 win. But, the kicker is MSU will be without a captain for the first time this season.
On Monday, Izzo announced senior guard and MSU's leading scorer and rebounder Denzel Valentine had undergone a 'very minor' surgery Monday morning to repair chipped cartilage in his left knee. The procedure was arthroscopic and the injury occurred during practice Sunday night, which Izzo said will keep Valentine out for 2-3 weeks.
Meanwhile, Oakland's star player, junior guard Kahlil Felder, who is coming off of a 38-point effort against Washington, is averaging 25.9 points and 8.9 assists per game and has already garnered three Lou Henson National Player of the Week awards.
In addition, Oakland's last game saw the season debut for redshirt-sophomore guard Martez Walker, who scored 18 points in his first game for Oakland since transferring from Texas this past January.
"Oakland has turned into a really big game, I know you get tired of hearing that from me," Izzo said.
"They went out and demolished Washington -- (it's) kind of like when we played Texas Southern last year. ... That is an excellent offensive team, (Kahlil) Felder is among the nations best leaders in scoring and assists, and in addition, (Martez) Walker gives them another dynamic scorer/shooter, to an already good team."
Izzo said he believes this might be the best team Oakland's head coach Greg Kampe has had in his 32 seasons as Oakland's head coach, and that he thinks Oakland will be the favorite to win the Horizon League.
"This is a team that might be better than some teams we play in our league," Izzo said. "I'm treating this as an NCAA (tournament) team. I don't know if that's good or bad with one day of prep to do that as far as getting our guys ready (to play without Denzel Valentine), but that's the beauty of basketball."
The game can be seen Tuesday on ESPNU at 7 p.m. EST.