Spartans put win streak on the line against Kangaroos

Dec 19, 2011 - 3:45 PM East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - The Michigan State Spartans seek their 10th straight victory, as the welcome the UMKC Kangaroos to East Lansing this evening, for non-conference action at the Breslin Center.

Tom Izzo's Spartans dropped their first two games to open up the 2011-12 campaign, with the losses coming at neutral sites against ACC giants North Carolina and Duke. Since then, the team has reeled off nine straight wins, including a 74-60 triumph over Bowling Green on Saturday.

Matt Brown's Kangaroos are a decent 7-5 on the season and bring a three-game win streak into this game. The team has won six of its last seven games, after opening the season with four losses in the first five outings. Last Friday, UMKC knocked off Canisius at home, 72-67.

This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.

The Kangaroos are sitting two games over .500 this season, despite averaging 68.1 ppg and yielding the same number. The team is shooting a modest .435 from the floor this year, but has certainly relied on the three-pointer, averaging 8.4 treys per game and shooting a decent .378 from behind the arc. Reggie Chamberlain paces the squad in scoring at 19.0 ppg, on the strength of .43.5- percent accuracy from long range (30-of-69). Trinity Hall joins Chamberlain in double figures with 11.3 ppg. The scoring pool dries up after that, as Kirk Korver ranks third on the team in scoring at a mere 6.6 ppg. The 'Roos fell behind early, but won the game thanks to a career performance by Hall. The sophomore forward was 12-of-16 from the floor, dropping in a career-high 27 points. Chamberlain and Korver provided support with 10 points apiece.

The Spartans have always played strong defense under Izzo and this season is no different. Michigan State is holding opponents to just 57.9 ppg, well under 40 percent shooting (.367) and just a mere .293 from three-point range. In addition, MSU boasts of a +10.2 rebounding margin and is forcing 16.0 turnovers per game. Draymond Green has been the go-to-guy up front for Michigan State, pacing the team in both scoring and rebounding, with a near double-double of 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Keith Appling and Brandon Wood provide perimeter balance with 10.8 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. In the 14-point win over Bowling Green this past weekend, MSU was once again fueled by stingy defensive play. The Falcons managed just 37.5-percent shooting in the game and turned the ball over 15 times. While MSU was outrebounded in the first half (25-16), the Spartans owned the boards over the final 20 minutes, out-muscling BGSU on the glass 23-12 in the second half. Wood led four Spartans in double figures with 16 points. Derrick Nix poured in 14 points off the bench, while Branden Dawson and Green finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Green recorded his fifth double-double of the season with a game-high 10 rebounds.

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