The Michigan State Spartans head into Friday’s game versus the Arizona Wildcats looking to bury last season’s NCAA first round flame out. The two-seeded Spartans, who were a popular title pick, shockingly lost to Middle Tennessee in a game that was dubbed “the toughest of his Michigan State career” by head coach Tom Izzo.
This season, MSU returns one starter and will lean heavily on highly-touted freshman Miles Bridges. The Indianapolis native averaged 26.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and four blocks in the two Spartan exhibition games this year. Bridges, a McDonald’s All-American who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds, is a wing who can split time between small forward and guard.
Arizona/Michigan State series
Arizona holds a 4-2 edge all-time against Michigan State, a series that dates back to 1947. However, Friday’s game is the first in ten years between the two schools.
- 2005 MSU 74 - UA 71 (OT): Arizona’s 16-2 run in the last 5:43 of regulation sent the Maui Invitational third place game into overtime. In the extra period, Chris Rodgers hit a three to draw UA within one of the Spartans. He then called timeout when the Wildcats had none left and was assessed a technical foul. MSU’s Maurice Ager sank both free throws to seal the Arizona loss.
- 2001 MSU 74 – UA 60: The Spartans notched their first series win behind Marcus Taylor’s 19 points. Arizona got 15 points each from Luke Walton and Rick Anderson but the Wildcats never led in this game. Michigan State extended its home court winning streak to 50 games with the victory.
- 2001 UA 80 - MSU 61: Arizona hammered the defending champions in the Final Four by opening the second half with a 21-3 stretch. All five Wildcat starters scored in double figures and the team shot 50 percent from the field. Jason Gardner led all scorers with 21 points and Richard Jefferson got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a thunderous dunk. The entire game can be watched here.
- 1999 UA 79 - MSU 68: In a game of runs, Arizona closed out the Spartans 20-9 in the final eight minutes at McKale. Jason Gardner scored 20 points and played all 40 minutes while Michigan State’s superstar guard, Mateen Cleaves, did not play due to a stress fracture in his foot. The Spartans would go on to win the NCAA Tournament later that season.
- 1987 UA 78 – MSU 58: As the No. 1 team in the country, Arizona clobbered MSU at McKale with a loaded Wildcat roster that included Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert, Kenny Lofton, and Steve Kerr. Arizona completed the season with a loss to Oklahoma in the Final Four and a 31-2 record.
- 1947 UA 45 – MSU 43: Arizona was the road team and won the series’ first meeting. The Wildcats finished the season as Border Conference Champions with a 19-10 season record. At the time, the league included present day schools Texas Tech, Arizona State, Northern Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas A&M, New Mexico State, Texas-El Paso, and Hardin-Simmons.