UCLA Presents Challenge For Spartan Bigs

UCLA Presents Challenge For Spartan Bigs

Basketball

UCLA Presents Challenge For Spartan Bigs

Tom Izzo’s #11 Spartans (3-1) get set to tip off a challenging stretch with #17 UCLA (4-0) in the Las Vegas Invitational on Thanksgiving night.  The tournament presents Michigan State with an opportunity to gain confidence, learn who can get it done – and win a championship.

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On Thursday night, Tom Izzo and his Spartans won’t spend a minute thinking about turkey and stuffing.

As is the case every season, Izzo presents his team with a bevy of tough non-conference battles and the Las Vegas Invitational will start with a great opportunity for the Spartans to show their potential against #17 UCLA.

With 7’1″ center Moses Brown in the middle for the Bruins, Michigan State will have to deal with a team that will have the edge in terms of size down low and in the paint.

Brown is averaging 17.3 and 12 rebounds per game.

UCLA’s size advantage over the Spartans isn’t exclusive to the front court, however.

Kris Wilkes is a 6’8″ guard who is averaging 17.5 points a game.

Here’s some of Tom Izzo’s thinking heading into this game:

“My biggest concern is the size and a little bit of foul trouble. Size is an issue, but they’ve got to cover us, too. They’ve got good guards but young. Wilkes is a kid we recruited a little bit, he’s one of their most talented players. The Brown kid inside is good, he can do some things. But he’s playing a lot minutes for them, so we have to wear him down.”

Izzo is still working on finding the right rotation and this tournament will go a long way toward giving him an idea of who will lead him through the season that will be filled with brutal battles.

Early on, it’s appearing as if Aaron Henry and Foster Loyer are getting their chances and all indications point to them being regular members of the playing group.

But what about the younger big fellas like Marcus Bingham and Thomas Kithier?

Nick Ward, Xavier Tillman, Kenny Goins – we know they’ll be counted on to perform down low on both sides of the floor but this game against UCLA may present Izzo with the chance to see what Bingham and Kithier can do.

“Right now, there are times I want to play Marcus and times I think, because of his body and the weight, it’s harder to play him. Do I put Kithier in, put Foster in, put (Matt) McQuaid at the point some? Those are things the next two days we’ll take a look at.”

Great opportunity for individual Spartans and the team, as a whole, Thursday night against UCLA.

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