Sunday 11/25/2012 @ 12:00 PM on ESPN3
Yes, that’s right. This game is only available for viewing via espn3.com streaming video feed. I suppose it is being played in the midst of an NFL Sunday, but one would think they could jettison some meaningless highlight show and show the game on any number of networks. Once again, I digress….
Louisiana-Lafayette arrives in East Lansing to face the Spartans at the end of what has been a very busy week for both teams, but also one in which the Ragin’ Cajuns will have now seen three different states in the last five days. A Sun Belt Conference school, Louisiana-Lafayette is yet another foe which finds itself short in supply of big men. Their most formidable big is Shawn Long, a 6′ 9″ F averaging 15 points and 7.6 rebounds thus far this season. The second highest scorer for ULL is Bryant Mbamalu, who is listed as a F despite being 6′ 2″ and averages 11 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The most consistent guard for them has been Elfrid Payton, a sophomore logging heavy minutes and roughly averaging 11 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG. ULL gets a little from everyone and not a lot from anyone, a true team effort which is in no way a bad thing but their is much youth on the squad and so some growing pains are bound to occur. On the subject of their youth, in their last game against New Mexico State freshman guard Steven Wronkoski played 31 minutes and collected 16 points, much of which the result of 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc. That’s one freshman the Spartans will have to watch closely.
The Spartans only luxury this past week has been playing within the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. Still, this will be their fourth game in that span and the injuries have been piling up along with a presumed level of fatigue. MSU has had to deal with a few different styles of play, from zone defenses to run-and-gun teams, and all of that after literally flying half way around the world to begin the season. The stress has begun to show up on the floor of late, with turnovers, defensive lapses, and occasional sloppy play which is not indicative of a Tom Izzo coached team. Travis Trice is not expected back until the team faces Miami on the 28th, so the Spartans have the same lineup to work with as they had against Oakland. They are missing Gary Harris as well as Trice, but Denzel Valentine continues to kick in several highlight plays per game in their stead and Keith Appling continues to be nothing short of amazing. So long as MSU can count on more inspired play out of Adreian Payne(15 pts, 9 reb. vs. Oakland), and Valentine then I’m sure they will get by just fine in this game. Branden Dawson has been in a funk but I don’t see that lasting, and Derrick Nix has made plays when they’ve needed him to do so. This is a good group and when they get healthy again the depth will be unfathomable.
Prediction: MSU 72. ULL 58