No. 2 Michi­gan wiser, ready for No. 1 Duke

West Hawaii Today - - Sports - BY CHRIS SOLARI

EAST LANS­ING, Mich. — The last time Michi­gan State sat as the na­tion’s sec­ond-ranked team and went up against No. 1, the Spar­tans beat Ken­tucky in the 2013 Cham­pi­ons Clas­sic.

The last time Tom Izzo’s Spar­tans faced Mike Krzyzewski, a year ago at Cameron In­door Sta­dium, Duke forced a young MSU team into a bevy of turnovers that turned into a game-chang­ing bar­rage.

Con­sis­tency of a pil­lar of Izzo’s pro­gram. The next step, the Hall of Fame coach said Wed­nes­day, is to beat top teams more reg­u­larly. Like Duke. “I think that’s just an­other step in the mil­lions of things I have yet to ac­com­plish, that we have to ac­com­plish here, is fig­ur­ing out how to win, know­ing how to win and then trans­lat­ing that into game af­ter game af­ter game,” Izzo said Mon­day. “And let’s face it, (the Blue Devils) have done a bet­ter job of it than we have.”

The Spar­tans (1-0) have na­tional cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions and get a chance to prove them­selves on a na­tional stage Tues­day in one of the most an­tic­i­pated games of the col­lege bas­ket­ball reg­u­lar sea­son. They face Duke at 7 p.m. in the Cham­pi­ons Clas­sic at United Cen­ter in Chicago.

It’s just the 42nd time the top two teams in the coun­try have played each other, ac­cord­ing to col­lege­pol­ MSU is 1-1 in those matchups, beat­ing Ken­tucky four

years ago and los­ing to Duke in the 1999 Fi­nal Four.

“Our mind­set is of course to win,” sopho­more for­ward Miles Bridges said Fri­day af­ter the Spar­tans opened with a 98-66 win over North Florida. “We want to do any­thing in our power to pre­pare for Duke.”

Izzo, who is 1-10 against Kryzyzewski in his ca­reer, has tried to pat­tern his MSU pro­gram af­ter the Duke pro­gram Krzyzewski built at Duke over the past 38 years.

“I think his place in col­lege bas­ket­ball is well-chron­i­cled. And I’m glad,” Izzo said. “I hope he keeps win­ning other than (Tues­day) night, be­cause I think for me it just gives me more mo­ti­va­tion on what the best have done just on things I’d like to ac­com­plish here be­fore I’m done.”

Krzyzewski on Satur­day told re­porters af­ter win­ning his 1,000th game at Duke, a 99-69 win over Elon, the Cham­pi­ons Clas­sic meet­ing with MSU is “a big­time game for us.”

“They’re old and new,” Krzyzewski said of MSU. “They had good old, re­ally good old, and good new. And the guy coach­ing them, he’s older — not as old as me, but he’s pretty good. “It’ll be a hell of a night.” A year ago, a young and in­jury-lim­ited MSU squad stuck with the Blue Devils un­til the 6-minute mark of the sec­ond half at Cameron In­door Sta­dium. Duke then went on an 11-0 run that took a lit­tle more than 2 min­utes, and it forced 10 turnovers that led to 15 points. The Blue Devils pulled away for a 78-69 vic­tory.

“This isn’t about try­ing to play well, this is about try­ing to win games,” Izzo said Mon­day. “And I do think we grew up a lot in that game (last year), con­sid­er­ing the travel and what we went through last year. We went down and com­peted very well for prob­a­bly 35 min­utes of that game. That’s what Duke’s pretty good at.”

Against Ken­tucky in last year’s Cham­pi­ons Clas­sic, the Spar­tans wilted un­der the spot­light of Madi­son Square Gar­den and got blown out by the Wild­cats, 69-48. MSU is 3-3 in the event, which also in­cludes the Ken­tucky vs. Kansas in the late game.

“That ex­pe­ri­ence last year (against Ken­tucky) hum­bled everybody,” Izzo said. “It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence — one of the few times, maybe the only time in this seven games that we were blown out. … It was a blowout game be­cause I don’t think we were ready for that stage. It was one of the few times that I can say that.

“I think we’re ready for the stage (against Duke), but we gotta play a team that’s aw­fully tal­ented and well-coached.”


Pres­i­dent Trump has per­son­ally in­ter­vened on be­half of the three UCLA bas­ket­ball play­ers en­snared in an in­ter­na­tional shoplift­ing scan­dal, ask­ing his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Xi Jin­ping, to help set­tle the case, a top White House spokesman said Mon­day.

Trump spoke with Xi dur­ing a visit to Bei­jing last week that came shortly af­ter the three Bru­ins fresh­men had been ques­tioned in con­nec­tion with the theft of de­signer sun­glasses from a high-end shop­ping mall next to the ho­tel in Hangzhou, China, where the UCLA team was stay­ing in ad­vance of the Pac-12 China game against Georgia Tech.

The fact that Trump raised the ar­rests with Xi was first re­ported by the Wash­ing­ton Post.

LiAn­gelo Ball, Cody Ri­ley and Jalen Hill have re­mained at that ho­tel await­ing res­o­lu­tion of their case while their Bru­ins team­mates re­turned to Los An­ge­les af­ter de­feat­ing the Yel­low Jack­ets, 63-60, in Shang­hai.

ESPN has re­ported, cit­ing anony­mous sources, that au­thor­i­ties have sur­veil­lance footage of thefts from three stores inside the mall ad­ja­cent to the team ho­tel in Hangzhou.

Xi as­sured Trump that he would look into the mat­ter and that the play­ers would be treated fairly, a U.S. of­fi­cial told the Post. The news­pa­per also re­ported that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has been in touch with the fam­i­lies of the play­ers and spo­ken with UCLA coach Steve Al­ford. The U.S. of­fi­cial who spoke with the Post also in­di­cated that charges against the play­ers have been re­duced and that the case is pro­ceed­ing to­ward a res­o­lu­tion.

It re­mained un­clear if, or when, the play­ers would be al­lowed to re­turn to the United States. UCLA will play its home opener against Cen­tral Arkansas on Wed­nes­day night at Pauley Pav­il­ion.


Cen­tral Michi­gan guard Shawn Roundtree (2) drib­bles against Michi­gan guard Zavier Simp­son (3) in a game on Mon­day.

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