Michigan State basketball game score vs. No. 18 Alabama Crimson Tide: Time, TV
When: 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
Radio: WJR-AM (760).
• Box score
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Game notes: The Spartans’ November gantlet continues with a trip to Portland to face the Crimson Tide in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational.
Coach Nate Oats, who spent 11 seasons at Romulus High (with a 222-52 record) before jumping to Buffalo and then to Alabama, has a simple offensive philosophy: Fire and forget. In Oats’ three previous seasons at Tuscaloosa, the Tide has finished second (30.9), fourth (30) and eighth (29.9) in 3-pointers taken per game. Alabama hasn’t shot well on those, with percentages ranking 96th, 113th and 307th in the nation, but as the old saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ’Bama has been even more 3-friendly this season, averaging 32.8 attempts over their four wins (against two Atlantic-Sun squads, a Big South squad and a Sun Belt team, admittedly), though the 33.6% success rate is only 191st in the nation.
The gunnery chief, as it were, for Oats is forward Brandon Miller, a five-star forward in the class of 2022 out of Tennessee. The freshman, who was No. 14 in his class, is hoisting up 7.3 3-pointers a game — again, over just four games — and hitting 3.8, a success rate of 51.7% that, should he keep it up, would be, uh, pretty good. Miller has averaged 20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his first four career games.
Miller is backed by junior Mark Sears, who’s hitting only 41.7% of his six 3s a game, while getting 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game. The guard hails from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but spent his first two seasons at Ohio, including last season, during which he averaged 19..6 points, six rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
The Spartans, meanwhile, have given up plenty of 3-point attempts, as the 25.5 a game against them ranks 309th in the nation — but have forced their foes into poor shots, with opponents shooting 26.5% (41st in the nation) from beyond the arc. Forward Joey Hauser has been firing off some 3s of his own, hitting 50% this season on 5.5 attempts a game.
The winner of tonight’s matchup takes on the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 22 UConn and Oregon (which already has a loss to UC Irvine on the books) at 9:30 p.m. Friday in the classic Memorial Coliseum (ESPN), while the losers face off at midnight in the Coliseum on ESPN2. From there, they’ll play the corresponding team — either Iowa State, No. 1 North Carolina, Portland or Villanova — from the other side of the bracket in the championship, third-, fifth- and seventh-place games on Sunday. The Spartans then get just two days off before heading to South Bend, Indiana, to take on Notre Dame on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
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