It’s another small lineup for MSU as they face the well-traveled Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions.
The 19th-ranked Spartans are expected to bring Adreian Payne off the bench again, with Branden Dawson starting at the small forward spot and Derrick Nix at center. Keith Appling, Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris will occupy the perimeter in the three-guard lineup.
Pine Bluff (1-6) is playing its fifth straight road game and sixth in their last seven outings. Their BCS-conference road swing has included blowout losses at Washington State, Arizona State, Oregon and San Diego State.
It’ll be interesting to see how MSU coach Tom Izzo manages his rotation tonight after promising to trim minutes for some players. Might actually be the only thing to watch in this one, as Pine Bluff is only scoring 54 points while allowing 71 a game.
Follow me on Twitter (@chrissolari or along the right rail of the blog) and check back here at halftime and after the final buzzer for more analysis.
HALFTIME – MSU 38, Pine Bluff 12
It took a last-second 3-pointer for the Golden Lions to reach double digits here. They look like a really tired bunch right now, and the Spartans have too much talent and energy for Pine Bluff.
MSU didn’t look spectacular early against APB’s 2-3 zone, turning the ball over too much and struggling to hit from deep and missing its first seven 3-point attempts. However, the Spartans settled in and finished the half by making three of their last four from deep.
Gary Harris has nine points to lead the Spartans, while Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne and Travis Trice each have six. MSU is outrebounding APB 27-12 overall, and the Spartans have 10 offensive boards.
To sum it up, this thing is going pretty much as expected.