Thursday, April 15, 2021

Preview: Spartans land in Terrapin territory

February 28, 2021
<p>Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) shoots a three pointer over freshman guard Rocket Watts (2). The Spartans fell to the Terrapins, 60-67, on Feb. 15, 2020 at the Breslin Student Events Center.</p>

Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) shoots a three pointer over freshman guard Rocket Watts (2). The Spartans fell to the Terrapins, 60-67, on Feb. 15, 2020 at the Breslin Student Events Center.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

They're both on winning streaks, but only one can come out victorious Sunday afternoon.

"Games don't get any bigger than these are for us," head coach Tom Izzo said, ahead of the Spartans matchup with Maryland on Sunday afternoon.

The Michigan State men's basketball team (13-9, 7-9 Big Ten) is stepping into Terrapin territory for one of their last matchups of the regular season. They are looking to collect a fourth consecutive win and this will be their third of six games in 13 days.

It was announced by Joe Lunardi with ESPN recently that MSU has been projected to be one of the First Four Out in his tournament projections for March Madness, alongside Minnesota, Stanford and Richmond.

The Maryland men's basketball team is currently 14-10 overall and 8-9 in league play. They are looking to win their fifth consecutive game after playing the last four in a span of eight days to solidify themselves in the NCAA Tournament prospects.

"Looking at Maryland, kind of like we did, they lost their center [Galin] Smith and their point guard, and it took a while for them to get going too," Izzo said.

The Terrapins are led by junior guard Eric Ayala, who averages 14.6 points per game. This is 1.3 less than MSU's leading scorer Aaron Henry, who averages 15.3 points per game. The Maryland defense has not allowed an opponent to score more than 61 points in seven of its last nine games, meaning their opponents are averaging just 59.7 points on 37.4% shooting, including 30.8% from behind the arc.

Spartan fans should also watch out for Aaron Wiggins, who has scored roughly 17 or more points in four of the last five Terrapin games. Darryl Morsell is also a viable Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate, so his ability to guard the perimeter will be key in the game if Maryland wants to limit Henry's opportunities on offense.

Izzo said that Ayala, Wiggins, Morsell and Donta Scott are definitely the dirty workers for the Terrapins and that while they're not super big, they've got the height and the athletic ability to keep up.

Luckily, the Spartans seem to be figuring themselves out. The main action seems to come from a starting lineup that is comprised of Joshua Langford, Henry, Gabe Brown and Rocket Watts.

Together, the group has led the Spartans to wins against two AP Top 5 teams, including No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Illinois.

Izzo told the media Friday that the team is healthy, other than Foster Loyer. He is unsure if Loyer will be on the court anytime soon, or the rest of the season, as his shoulder injury hasn't gotten any better, and he is still undergoing tests. However, he did practice the other day, as much as he could, and got some things done.

Sunday's game will air live at 2 p.m. on CBS.

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