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Preview: What to watch and how to watch as No. 3 MSU takes on Rutgers

December 5, 2017
Sophomore forward Nick Guard (44) takes a free throw during the game against Nebraska on Dec. 3, 2017, at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Cornhuskers 86-57.
Sophomore forward Nick Guard (44) takes a free throw during the game against Nebraska on Dec. 3, 2017, at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Cornhuskers 86-57. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Who: Rutgers (6-2 overall, 0-1 conference)

When: Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Where: Louis Brown Athletic Center, Piscataway, New Jersey

TV: BTN

Radio: Spartan Sports Network

After blowing out Nebraska, 86-57 Sunday to start Big Ten play, No. 3 MSU (7-1 overall, 1-0) is back to conference action to play Rutgers on the road.

Here's what to watch for:

Quick turnaround: Tuesday will mark MSU's sixth game in 13 days. The Spartans will enter Piscataway with a six-game winning streak. Each win in that period has been by at least 18 points. 

Rutgers, however, also played Sunday and lost to Minnesota 89-67 in Minneapolis for its second consecutive loss, the other against Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. 

MSU won three games in four days during the PK80 over Thanksgiving weekend in Portland, Oregon. The team came back to host Notre Dame last Thursday and then Nebraska.

The start of the Big Ten season, which has been earlier in previous seasons, is to be held at Madison Square Garden in New York city to accommodate the Big Ten Tournament, which falls a week earlier this season.

Tuesday will mark MSU's first trip to an opposing team's home court, and Izzo said Sunday playing in an aggressive road environment will present a different challenge to his team.

"If you have aspirations of winning the conference, these are the kind of games you got to win," Izzo said Sunday. "These are sometimes harder to win than bigger games. We’re going to go out there and try to stay as fresh as we can and see what we can do. Thanks a lot, enjoy the day."

Shooting woes: Despite winning by 29 points on Sunday, Izzo still was not satisfied with MSU's toughness on the court. 

The Spartans shot 26.3 percent from three while they allowed Nebraska to shoot 45.5 percent from beyond the arc. This season opponents have shot 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, compared to the 34.2 percent from the floor.

Rutgers, however, is shooting 26.4 percent from three and is holding opponents to 29.5 percent behind the arc.

The Scarlet Knights biggest scoring threat, Corey Sanders, was averaging 12.6 points and 4.8 rebounds game as of Sunday. Sanders, a point guard who elected to return to school after testing the NBA draft waters last season, also leads the team with 3.9 assists a game.

Coaching respect: MSU is 5-0 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, and Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell fell 93-65 in his first meeting with the Spartans last season.

Though MSU has dominated the series, Izzo still thinks very highly of Pikiell.

"That guy is a hell of a coach," Izzo said Sunday. "I think he was one of the great additions to our league. Some of those guys that were freshmen and sophomores getting their brains beat are now juniors and seniors."

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Predictions

Casey Harrison: MSU 87, Rutgers 65

Michael Duke: MSU 81, Rutgers 63

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