East Lansing, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of 2-1 teams get together in a non-bracketed game of the Orlando Classic on Monday night, as the Santa Clara Broncos come calling on the Michigan State Spartans.
Santa Clara opened the season with back-to-back wins over visiting foes Cal State Fullerton (89-72) and San Diego Christian (70-58), but suffered its first loss the last time out in a 60-54 final at Utah State. Following this clash, the Broncos will tangle with Tennessee and perhaps Kansas, depending on the outcome of its game with Rhode Island, in Orlando.
Michigan State tipped off the new campaign with a closer-than-expected 64-59 victory at Navy, then followed that up with an 81-71 loss to Duke. An 87-52 rout of visiting Loyola-Chicago got the team back on track, setting it up for this encounter, as well as others coming up this week against quality opponents in either Georgia Tech or Marquette, and a potential matchup with Kansas.
In the only previous meeting between these two teams, Santa Clara defeated Michigan State, 77-71, at the 1995 Maui Invitational.
Poor shooting proved too much to overcome in the Broncos' last game against Utah State, as the visitors made good on only 36.4 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a 6-of-24 effort from 3-point range. The team performed well on defense, limiting the Aggies to 34.8 percent efficiency, but the hosts drained seven treys. Jared Brownridge paced Santa Clara with 11 points, while Matt Hubbard came off the bench to chip in with 10 to go with eight boards.
Despite tallying only nine points but handing out six helpers against USU, Brandon Clark (20.3 ppg, 6.0 apg) leads the Broncos in both scoring and assists, and he is joined in double figures by Brownridge and Denzel Johnson with 12.0 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. The team as a whole is netting 71 ppg while permitting 63.3 ppg , and it is shooting 46 percent from the floor compared to only 37 percent by the opposition.
Michigan State made Loyola pay for the loss it suffered to Duke, as the Spartans shot a sizzling 63.2 percent from the field, knocking down 9-of-18 3- point tries, all while putting five players in double figures. Branden Dawson led the team with 15 points to go with seven rebounds, while Matt Costello logged a double-double consisting of 13 points and 11 boards. Travis Trice chipped in 13 points and was one three players with seven assists in the game, the Spartans credited with 27 helpers on their 36 total baskets. MSU's defensive effort yielded just a 34.5 percent success rate to Loyola on its field goal attempts, and coach Tom Izzo's club easily won the rebounding battle, 40-23.
Trice (17.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.7 apg), Dawson (15.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Denzel Valentine (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.3 apg) are all producing at a high level for a team that is putting up 74 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of 53.5 percent overall, and 38.6 percent from long range this season. The Spartans, who permit 64 ppg, own a +11.7 rebounding margin, but they are -3.0 in turnovers.