Monday, November 19, 2007

UCLA vs. Michigan St. - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The top two seeded teams of the tournament will meet for the CBE Classic championship when No.1 ranked UCLA takes on the No.10 ranked Michigan Spartans on Tuesday.

The Bruins (4-0) are coming off a sluggish performance against the Maryland Terrapins (3-0) last night.  Although UCLA won 71-59 and was never in danger of losing the game, they struggled against the trapping defensive pressure applied by Maryland and were out of sync most of the game.

Michigan State barely edged Missouri, 86-83, in the other semifinal contest.  Spartan guard Drew Nietzel hit a late three-pointer and two free throws to seal the win down the stretch.  He finished with a game-high 21 points.

The Spartans, under Head Coach Tom Izzo, have always played tough defense and executed well in the half-court.  This season Izzo is urging the team to open up more and push the ball in transition.  As a result, the team has uncharacteristically committed more turnovers than in the past.  Against Louisiana-Monroe the Spartans had 20 turnovers and against Missouri they had 17 miscues.

Drew Nietzel (6'0, 180, Sr), a preseason All-American candidate, is averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 assists a game.  He is a gritty point-guard and the player his team looks for when a play needs to be made.  Nietzel is shooting 46.7% from the field and 66% on three-pointers in the early going.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook has played extremely well on defense since replacing the injured Darren Collison at point-guard.  The spotlight match-up in the game will be between Westbrook and Nietzel.  Westbrook needs to keep Nietzel out of the lane and wrap him on the perimeter while staying out of foul trouble.  Against Maryland, Westbrook was charged with four fouls and the Bruins can ill afford to lose him in this game.

Raymar Morgan (6'7,220, So) was expected to have a break-out year after a successful freshman campaign.  A scorer who can go inside and also hit from outside to the three-point line, he is also leading the Spartans in rebounding so far in the early going. Against Missouri, Morgan went 6-6 from both the field and free throw line for 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

The Bruins will counter Morgan with one of their best perimeter defenders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - this will be another interesting key match-up to follow in the game. Mbah a Moute had 8 points and 4 rebounds against Maryland in 35 minutes

At power forward the Spartans start Marquise Gray (6'8,235,Jr).  Gray is a tough interior player who is shooting over 75% for the season.

Alfred Aboya has been struggling with foul trouble this season and fouled out late in the game against Maryland.  However, Aboya's foul troubles have been covered up by the stellar play of senior Lorenzo Mata who has backed-up the front line this season.  Against Maryland, Mata hauled down 9 rebounds in the winning effort.

At center the Spartans start junior Goran Suton a 6'10, 245 big man out of Lansing, MI.  Against Missouri Suton scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

The Bruins will counter with Kevin Love who has become a double-double machine in his first few games of the season.  Love had his left hand bandaged against Maryland after he chipped a bone in his left-hand.  He complained that it affected his free throw shooting and was sore after the game. 

Kalin Lucas (6'0,165, Fr) is a speedy player who takes over the playmaking roles at times to allow Nietzel to move over to shooting guard.  Lucas is averaging 6.0 assists a game.  Reserve guard Chris Allen (6'3, 190, Fr) will also see time in the guard rotation.  Allen is a good shooter from beyond the arc and gives the Spartans a different look on offense.

BBR Notes: UCLA Coach Ben Howland stated during his press conference that the team has faced some adversity since the start of the tournament.  First, the Bruins had thousands of dollars in computer equipment stolen from them over the weekend.  Second, the team bus broke down on the way to the airport thus delaying their arrival

Time: 7:00PM PT
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: MSU)


At Nov 19, 2007, 9:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UCLA by 15...
and OJ did it!

At Nov 19, 2007, 9:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1 vs #10... best match-up thus far of ANY teams this year. And people complain about UCLA's "weak" schedule!

At Nov 19, 2007, 11:38:00 PM, Anonymous JonW said...

Exactly...First ACC Maryland now Big 10 Michigan St...and none of those teams were listed on the schedule in the first place. This is a tougher non-conference schedule than UCLA was given credit for.

At Nov 20, 2007, 12:40:00 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks for the preview KS! Love will go off tonight vs Suton!

At Nov 20, 2007, 12:53:00 AM, Anonymous jack b. said...

If Westbrook can contail Nietzel then I think the Bruins win going away.
One other note we all Ben Howland but Izzo is exactly like Howland as far as coaching. This is going to be a tough game esp if Nietzel goes off. We really needed DC for tonight.

At Nov 20, 2007, 2:44:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

good early test for our Bruins, without three of our guys...

At Nov 20, 2007, 4:21:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

I need status on Kevin Love's injury. Is it nagging? What is going on??

At Nov 20, 2007, 4:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love has a chipped finger on his non-shooting hand. He'll be fine in a couple of weeks.

At Nov 20, 2007, 5:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the coaching staff said it is an injury he will have to deal with for the whole year, but that it was on his non shooting hand.

At Nov 20, 2007, 5:44:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Exactly right. Its on his non-shooting hand and is still swollen which may have affected his shooting yesterday especially at the line
But he's going to have to play with it this year. He'll adjust.

At Nov 20, 2007, 7:24:00 AM, Anonymous baregunner said...

Did anyone watch the game with Dick Vitale as color man? I had always thought he was the typical East Coast-Jersey biased-type analyst, but I was extremely pleased to hear all the accollades toward UCLA and our Basketball program. He even vindicated that the Pac-10 was probably the best conference in the country more than once! And he really is on the "Kevin Love bandwagon"! Kudos to Dickie V for telling it like it "IS"!
We really need to step up the "D" tonight. Last night was not swarming enough! Too many easy shots given up! Howland should sub a little more and have the bench (Dragovic, Abdul-Hamid, Stanback) be overly aggressive, such as harrassing the ball up the court. If the reserves get a foul or two it won't be as costly. The past couple of years the Bruins have been relying on their tenacious defense to razzle the opponent and make them play "our" game! And "those" records I think speak for themselves.

At Nov 20, 2007, 7:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(To Add) Not that I am saying that Coach H isn't coaching correctly! I really think there is no better at the collegiate level!!!

At Nov 20, 2007, 4:06:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

can't wait for the recap of our BIG WIN AGAINST MSU BABY.......


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