Sunday , Feb , 26 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Michigan State takes on Indiana in key Big Ten clash

(Sports Network) – The Michigan State Spartans are aiming for their seventh
20-win season in the last nine years, and they must knock off Indiana in
today’s Big Ten Conference clash to reach that mark. Michigan State is not
mathematically eliminated from contention for the Big Ten regular season
title, but the squad would need a miracle to capture the crown. The
Spartans have lost three of their last four games to fall to 7-6 in the
league standings, and the most recent defeat occurred on Wednesday by a score
of 79-68 to No. 13 Ohio State. Michigan State is just 3-6 in true road
games, an obvious reason for concern heading into today’s contest.

As for Indiana, it carried a five-game losing skid into Tuesday’s home
matchup with Penn State, and the result of that tilt was a much-needed 69-65
triumph. The Hoosiers are a solid 9-3 at Assembly Hall this season, but they
are a disappointing 6-7 in league play. Indiana owns a 61-41 lead over
Michigan State in the all-time series, but the Spartans recorded an
87-73 decision over the Hoosiers in East Lansing earlier this season.

The fact that Michigan State lost on its home floor to Ohio State by 11 points
earlier this week suggests that the team is not playing nearly as well as
expected. The Spartans hit 5-of-18 three-pointers in the clash while
permitting the Buckeyes to knock down 11-of-24 attempts from behind the arc.
Maurice Ager led the way in the loss with 26 points, while Shannon Brown
contributed 17 points and eight rebounds. As for Paul Davis, he managed 14
points for the Spartans, and those three players form one of the nation’s
premier trios.

Overall this season, Ager is netting 18.8 ppg to pace the squad, and
Brown is close behind with 18.2 ppg on 50 percent shooting from the floor.
Davis, a 57 percent shooter, adds 17.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg to the mix.
Michigan State is averaging 76.4 ppg on 48.5 percent overall efficiency, and
it is surrendering 69.4 ppg to its opponents.

Marshall Strickland was tremendous for Indiana in the win over Penn State last
time out, as the talented guard knocked down 7-of-11 three-pointers and
finished with 22 points. Marco Killingsworth was the only other Hoosier to
reach double figures, as he tallied 14 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Indiana earned a 38-26 rebounding advantage in the clash and limited the
Nittany Lions to 39.2 percent shooting from the floor, two obvious keys to the
victory.

Killingsworth has undoubtedly been the best player for the Hoosiers this
season, as the Auburn transfer is averaging 17.7 ppg on 54.9 percent
shooting from the field. He is also pulling down 8.0 rpg and has made the most
of his only season in Bloomington. Robert Vaden adds 13.4 ppg to the mix for
Indiana, and Strickland checks in with 12.1 ppg on 48.1 percent accuracy from
behind the arc. The Hoosiers are scoring 72.3 ppg while surrendering 66.9 ppg.

INDIANA MICHIGANST