Bowling Green, OH (Sports Network) - The Bowling Green Falcons close out their five-game homestand on Tuesday night with their most difficult task to date, as they welcome the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans to the Stroh Center.
Since losing its overseas opener against UConn (66-62), Michigan State has ripped off wins in nine of its last 10 games, most recently taking down Tuskegee on Saturday, 92-56. The Spartans have played just two true road tilts so far, having beaten nationally-ranked Kansas (67-64) and losing to Miami (67-59).
Although Bowling Green sits with a rather modest 5-4 record, it has played very well on its home floor, winning four of five matchups, including a 57-42 triumph over Samford on Dec. 8. This game marks the first time the Falcons are hosting a ranked team at the Stroh Center, and if they can pull off a win, they would be off to their best start through 10 games since the 2006-07 campaign.
The Spartans have won 10 of the 13 all-time meetings with Bowling Green, including matchups in each of the past two seasons in East Lansing.
Michigan State shot a modest 44.8 percent from the floor against Tuskegee, but thanks to a season-high 84.4 percent shooting from the foul line (27-of-32) and an astounding plus-28 rebounding margin (63-35), it was able to cruise to the easy 36-point victory. Keith Appling was outstanding in the win, missing just two of his nine field goal attempts in tallying 25 points, which tied a career-high. Derrick Nix (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Adreian Payne (12 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles, while Gary Harris (10 points) made up for a poor night from the floor (1-of-7) by going 8-of-8 from the foul line. Not only do the Spartans shoot an impressive 48.1 percent from the field for 71.7 ppg, they also do a great job keeping opponents off the scoreboard (56.4 ppg). Appling has taken the reins as the team's go-to guy this season, netting 15.5 ppg while dishing out 4.4 apg. Harris (12.7 ppg) and Brandon Dawson (10.1 ppg) are decent scorers, and Payne and Nix grab 7.7 and 7.5 rpg, respectively.
Bowling Green was far from its sharpest in its last game, making only 19-of-50 shots from the floor (.380), but it was solid at the foul line (15-of-17) and forced Samford into nearly as many turnovers (15) as it had field goals (16) en route to a comfortable 15-point win. Jordan Crawford struggled mightily from the field (4-of-17), but he still finished with a team-high 14 points, and he helped ease the pain of a poor shooting night by adding six rebounds and five assists. A'uston Calhoun added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Chauncey Orr chipped in 11 points. Tallying big point totals hasn't been the Falcons' strength this season, as they shoot less than 40 percent from the field for just 62.2 ppg, but they ride a pair of solid scorers in Crawford and Calhoun. Crawford nets 16.3 ppg while adding team-highs in assists (3.6 apg) and steals (1.9 spg), and Calhoun logs 16.1 ppg and 7.0 bpg.