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Feb 2, 2024 7:17 pm

Michigan State, Tom Izzo looking for more vs. Maryland

Tom Izzo notched his 700th career victory this week. The longtime Michigan State coach will need quite a few more this season if the Spartans want to reach the NCAA Tournament and chase Izzo’s second national championship.

Even with their 81-62 victory over archrival Michigan, the Spartans are 5-5 in the Big Ten (13-8 overall). They will host Maryland on Saturday in East Lansing.

Michigan State is trending in the right direction, having won four of its last five games.

“So many coaches have changed and I’ve just kind of hung in there and that’s what happens when you hang in there,” Izzo said. “Seven hundred wins is pretty impressive even to me, 700 wins at the same school, that means a lot to me.”

Jaden Akins scored a career-high 23 points against the Wolverines. However, the Spartans have an injury concern. Leading scorer Tyson Walker (18.9 ppg) is battling a groin injury.

“I’m not doing any load management at all. If I do anything, it’ll be a little bit in practice, but not really,” Izzo said.

“I mean, he’s in great shape. If the thing is gonna bother him, it’s gonna bother him. It might bother him all year. But if he tells me it’s too sore, if the trainer does, then we’ll take him out of practice.”

Maryland (13-8, 5-5) are tied with the Spartans in the standings. The Terrapins are coming off a 73-51 win over Nebraska in which they forced 18 turnovers, turning them in 25 points. Julian Reese dominated the interior with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

“We’re the No. 1 defensive team in the Big Ten and it’s not even close right now,” Terrapins coach Kevin Willard said. “As bad as we’ve been offensively, for these guys to come out and play the defense they have, it tells you something about the character of these kids.”

The first meeting between Maryland and Michigan State this season was a defensive slugfest. Walker led the Spartans to a 61-59 win at Maryland with 15 points, five assists and five steals.

–Field Level Media

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