5:00 Saturday. The Palace of Auburn Hills. Fox Sports Detroit.
Oakland enters this game with a record of 8-6, including a 1-1 mark in Summit League play. The Grizzlies’ best win was a 82-79 overtime win over Oregon in the second game of the season. Last Saturday, they lost to Michigan 89-76, in a game that was also played at The Palace.
Oakland’s tempo-free profile says they’ve been much better on offense than on defense this year. That statement is particularly true when it comes to rebounding. They’ve pulled down 36.4% of available rebounds on the offensive end (79th in the country). On the defensive end, though, their rebounding percentage is just 61.3% (316th in the nation). Those numbers mirror the figures posted by Oakland last season; if MSU can take advantage of Oakland’s poor defensive rebounding while preventing them from getting second chances on offenses, that will go along way to ensuring the Grizzlies don’t pull off the upset.
6’11” sophomore Keith Benson has been the Oakland’s best rebounder on both ends of the court, posting an rebounding percentages of 10.6/20.1 (offensive/defensive). Benson is also scoring efficiently in the paint, making 59.2% of his 2-point FG attempts.
In terms of overall efficiency, Oakland has a decent adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 107.2. Their adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 105.5 is much less impressive. This game could be of the shoot-out variety–although Oakland plays at a relatively slow pace of 66.4 possessions per game. Their game against Michigan featured sky-high team efficiency numbers of 144.0 and 123.0.
Oakland does appear to force their opponents to score from the perimeter. Their opponents have taken 42.4% of their FG attempts from 3-point range, converting those shots at a fairly average rate of 34.5%. Expect Chris Allen to get a lot more playing time and shooting opportunities in this game than he did against Texas. And Oakland’s opponents have posted a free throw rate of just 31.8%. It’ll be interesting to see if MSU can force its will on the Grizzlies by getting the ball to Raymar Morgan, Goran Suton, and Delvon Roe in the half-court offense.
Offensively, Oakland is led to by two players hailing from the Lansing area: 5’11 junior Johnathan Jones of Okemos and 6’3 senior Erik Kangas of Dewitt. Jones is averaging 14.6 points and 5.6 assists per game while playing 94.0% of available minutes. He hasn’t been very efficient shooting the ball, though, posting a shooting line of .417/.297/.750 (2pt/3pt/FT). Jones vs. Kalin Lucas will be a great match-up of lightning quick point guards, but Lucas may have the advantage in terms of using his strength to get into the lane vs. Jones.
Kangas has been more efficient in scoring 17.6 points per game, posting a shooting line of .457/.390/.955. It will be difficult for him to replicate those numbers against Travis Walton’s defense, though.
Last year, Oakland kept up with MSU for 40 minutes, losing 75-71 in a game played in East Lansing. This year, Kenpom predicts an 84-70 win for MSU in a 70-possession game. This game represents a great opportunity to play a decent opponent in a neutral site game that should feature a crowd containing fans of both teams.
I’ll be participating in extended family holiday activities while my VCR tapes this game. So a game recap won’t be up until some time on Sunday. Until then, feel free to post your thoughts about the game below.