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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oakland-Michigan State preview

The opponent — Michigan State has established itself as the juggernaut of college basketball programs in the state of Michigan over the last decade. The Spartans (8-2) are currently ranked No. 11 in the country and are coming off a 67-63 win over then No. 5 Texas in Houston.
Senior center Goran Suton, who recently returned from a knee injury, had 18 points in the win and sophomore guard Durrell Summers added 14 points. Both came off the bench in win over the Longhorns, but have started games this season. Suton is averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in just four games this season. Summers is averaging 8.3 points and 1.2 steals per game.
Junior forward Raymar Morgan (16 points, 5.6 rebounds per game) is the Spartans leading scorer and rebounder this season. Morgan is just eight points away from 1,000 career-points.
Sophomore guard Kalin Lucas (11 points, 6.5 assists) and senior guard Travis Walton (6.5 points, 2.9 assists) have started all 10 games for Michigan State.
Sophomore guard Chris Allen (10.9 points), freshman Delvon Roe (6.0 points, 5.5 rebounds) and senior Marquies Gray (5.6 points, 4.5 rebounds) are all key contributors for the Spartans this season.
Michigan State’s only two losses this season are to two ACC teams, Maryland and No. 1 North Carolina. The Spartans lost just two starters from last year’s team that reached the Sweet 16.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Keith Benson vs. Michigan State’s Goran Suton. Suton had a huge game against the Grizzlies last season, finishing with 15 points and 20 rebounds. Suton (6-foot-10, 245) will likely look to use his strength advantage inside and be active on the glass. Oakland’s zone defense has allowed an average of 13.3 offensive rebounds per game and Suton is one of the better rebounders around, so the Grizzlies will need to get a body on Suton at all times or he will make them pay. Oakland has at times made an effort to get Benson the ball and he has responded when they do. If Benson is active and can get Suton in foul trouble, it would be huge for the Grizzlies.

Matchup history —
Oakland is 0-6 all-time against Michigan State, with last year’s four-point loss (75-71) the closet game in the series. Saturday’s game will be just the second time the two team’s have met away from East Lansing. The Spartans defeated Oakland, 96-66, in Rochester Hills back on Nov. 17, 1998 in the only other meeting not at the Breslin Center.
Current senior Derick Nelson had 19 points and nine rebounds and graduated senior Brandon Cassise had 20 points in last year’s loss at East Lansing. Morgan led the Spartans with 20 points.

The skinny — Derick Nelson will be playing just his second game of the season after missing the first 13 with a broken foot. Nelson played eight minutes at Eastern Michigan on Monday despite not participating in a practice all season and as expected looked rusty. Nelson has went through several workouts and one practice this week so it will be interesting to see how many minutes he plays and how effective he is against the Spartans. Nelson, a Lansing native and high school teammate of Suton, wants to win this game badly and the Grizzlies will likely need Nelson to contribute to pull the upset. Senior guard Erik Kangas (17.2 points per game) and junior point guard Johnathon Jones (14.6 points, 5.6 assists) will also need to play well. Saturday’s game is the final non-conference game for Oakland, which hosts two league games next week. It is technically a home game for Oakland, but the Spartans fans will likely outnumber the Oakland fans. Michigan State is 8-2 all-time at the Palace.



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