November 12, 2012

Izzo expects better performance against Kansas

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo believes his team would have beaten UConn in the opener if they had played the first 12 minutes like they did the last 28 minutes.

"In the first 12 minutes, they shot 80 percent," Izzo said. "In the next 28 minutes they shot 30 percent. I think some of that was that our defense picked up a hair. But most of it was not turning the ball over and giving them four or five lay-ups in that first 12 minutes."

Izzo believes that playing several returning players in roles they are not yet accustomed to contributed to the sluggish start. Another factor was the poor play of true freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine early in the first half.

Harris and Valentine both settled down and played better during the final 28 minutes of the opener.

"That was disappointing. That was interesting to watch on film, the deer in the headlights look from some of our guys. It started out right from the beginning. At the same time, I said that we had to play some young guys. But we've also played guys at different positions. AP (Adreian Payne) now goes from center to the four man, which is an important positions for us."

Michigan State's finish was a consolation of sorts for Izzo and his staff.

"I could not figure out why we stood around some much after the way we practiced," Izzo said. "I think we showed some resiliency in bouncing back and played pretty good basketball in that last 28 minutes of that game after just an incredibly horrifying first 12 minutes."

Izzo does not expect fatigue from overseas travel to be a factor against the Jayhawks when the two teams square off in the Georgia Dome as part of the Champions Classic.

"I am sure we are going to be a little bit tired tomorrow just because of the nature of what we've done," said Izzo. "But I don't see it being anything catastrophic like I thought it could be. I am hoping that what people told me (is true). Coming back West is easier than going back East. Guys looked pretty good yesterday to be honest with you."

Izzo is honored to be part of the Champions Classic, a three-year event that also involves Duke and Kentucky along with Michigan State and Kansas.

"Playing in this event is a sign of respect for our program," said Izzo of the Champions Classic. "It's a three-year deal as you know. Playing down there in that dome is going to be incredible. We've played in that dome one other time against Gonzaga and Temple. We've had some success. I don't think that will have anything to do with it. It will be how we play."

Izzo indicated that Brandan Kearney is likely to play a bigger role against Kansas than he did against UConn. Kearney was suffering from a mouth infection and played just six minutes in the season opener.

Matt Costello will likely make his Spartan debut against Kansas. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound freshman did not play against UConn because he was still recovering from a badly bruised lower back.

Travis Trice is unlikely to play against Kansas. The sophomore point guard has experienced concussion-like symptoms after taking a shot to the head in the second half of the opener.

Kearney and Valentine will absorb Trice's minutes as a back-up point guard behind junior starter Keith Appling.

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