Michigan St Spartans vs. Arizona Wildcats Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 23rd 2023


Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was not particularly pleased with his team’s performance in a rout of Alcorn State on Sunday, downplaying the win.

“We did not beat the Lakers,” Izzo summarized.

The No. 21 Spartans (3-2) might not see the Lakers in Southern California on Thanksgiving Day, but they have another daunting task in Thousand Palms, Calif., in No. 3 Arizona (5-0).

“We’ve got to get a lot better by Thursday; (this week’s) practice should be fun because we’re going to have to get after it,” Izzo said after the 81-49 win over Alcorn State at East Lansing, Mich. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on. We did not beat the Lakers. There’s reason to feel a little bit good about things we did but not great about how we played.”

Izzo was most displeased about Michigan State’s rebounding performance. The Spartans were outrebounded 41-38 by Alcorn State, which outscored them 13-8 in second-chance points.

After Arizona defeated UT Arlington 101-56 on Sunday in Tucson, Ariz., the Wildcats ranked No. 5 nationally in rebounding margin at plus-25.

Led by forward Keshad Johnson’s 6.4 rebounds a game, Arizona is averaging 50.7 rebounds compared to their opponents’ 25.7 mark.

“The real concern is rebounding,” Izzo said. “We get outrebounded, as they had 16 offensives. You can look at it two ways: my staff said, ‘Well, they missed a lot of shots, they have a lot of opportunities for offensive rebounds,’ but I said, ‘Well, we had a lot of opportunities for defensive rebounds.’

“So, it just depends whichever way you look at it. I want to look at it my way, they can look at it whatever way they want to. My way is the way that matters in the meetings, so that’s a concern.”

None of Michigan State’s starters had more than five rebounds against Alcorn State. Reserve center Mady Sissoko led the team with seven.

Michigan State is averaging 39.6 rebounds a game — 0.8 better than their opponents’ mark of 38.8.

Tyson Walker, a guard who is averaging 23 points per game, did not play against Alcorn State due to illness. Izzo said Walker “will be alright” and should play against Arizona.

Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd already pocketed a true road win at Duke this month. He said the matchup with Michigan State as another “opportunity to go play one of the great programs in college basketball.”

“We’re fired up,” Lloyd said. “Coach Izzo is someone I really look up to. They’re a program that’s built on grit and fight, and I’m expecting a knockdown drag-out.”

Arizona has balance with six players averaging at least 11.4 points a game, led by point guard Kylan Boswell (13.8 per game).

Boswell is shooting 64.9 percent (24 of 37) from the field and 68.2 percent (15 of 22) from 3-point range. He also has 20 assists to go with 10 turnovers.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love leads Arizona with 24 assists with nine turnovers. Love is struggling from the field, shooting 40.8 percent, including 28.6 from beyond the arc, but Lloyd said he is a significant contributor in many other ways.

Love is second on the team with seven steals, behind Boswell’s eight, and is a critical part of the plan against guard-heavy Michigan State.

“I feel like we’re right where we should be,” Lloyd said.

–Field Level Media

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