Posted by Deepak Jayanti on January 30th, 2013
- Michigan State forward Adreian Payne showed his versatality on the offensive end against Indiana by scoring 18 points from several different spots on the floor. He drained a couple of shots from beyond the arc and had a jaw-dropping reverse dunk off a pass from Travis Trice. If Payne continues his offensive explosion, he may work himself up to the NBA Lottery of next summer’s draft. The junior forward has averaged 9.4 PPG and 6.9 RPG in primarily playing the power forward position for Tom Izzo, but Cody Zeller also had a tough time scoring (nine points) against Payne’s defense which will also impress the NBA scouts.
- Michigan forward Jordan Morgan tweaked his ankle in the first couple of minutes of the game against Illinois on Sunday. Head coach John Beilein confirmed that nothing is broken in his ankle which is great news for Wolverines fans. According to the staff, it is “just a sprain” but his playing time will be determined based on how he feels during practice over the next couple of days. Morgan has averaged 5.2 RPG this season but his defensive presence will be needed as Michigan visits Bloomington for arguably the biggest game of the 2012-13 season. Mitch McGary filled in for Morgan against Illinois, but he will have an extremely tough time keeping up with Cody Zeller and defending Christian Watford off the screens.
- Speaking of the Hoosiers, they have a big week ahead of them as they visit West Lafayette to play the Boilermakers tonight and then play Michigan at home on Saturday. The coaching staff is taking a “fresh” approach to these games and wants to manage fatigue effectively as the team heads into February. Head coach Tom Crean said, “What we’ve done is we’ve started to back off the practices a little earlier than we did last year.” He has plenty of depth at the wing position with Will Sheehey (10.4 PPG) and Remy Abell (5.3 PPG) available, but he doesn’t have much depth in the frontcourt considering Derek Elston’s injury to begin the season. But if the Hoosiers run their offense through the perimeter and look for scoring opportunities in transition, they may be able to give Zeller some rest over the next few weeks.
- In case you missed it, Illinois has lost six out of its last nine games but head coach John Groce remains positive. When asked about the Illini’s slump, Groce said, “We’re focusing on getting better. That’s the culture and environment we want.” His team has more turnovers (261) than assists (225) right now, and as a result most of the Illini guards settle for poor shots from beyond the arc. The lack of a true point guard on this team hurts its ball movement and even though Tracy Abrams (11.3 PPG and 3.2 APG) handles the ball in most half-court sets, he is still learning to play the position as exhibited by his 2.9 turnovers per game.
- After getting hammered by Iowa in Evanston two weeks ago, the Wildcats went to Champaign to pull off an upset against the Illini and then comfortably beat Minnesota at home. After losing Drew Crawford for the season due to a back injury, the Wildcats have showed no particular pattern this season in their performance. Sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski said, “We should get up for every game, especially in this league.” They will have a shot against the #1 ranked team in the nation this week as they visit Ann Arbor tonight to play the Wolverines for the second time this season (the first contest was a 28-point Michigan blowout).