For most of the early season, the big issue for Michigan State was making sure the team had enough in the tank for the challenging 11 games to open the schedule.
Entering a home contest on Friday evening against Buffalo (6-6), it is now a matter of whether Michigan State has played enough games of late to be sharp.
Through Dec. 10, Michigan State had played 11 games and had made two trips to the West Coast. Since then, the Spartans have played one game, a 67-54 home win over Oakland on Dec. 21.
Michigan State (8-4) hopes the extra time to practice and heal nagging injuries will be a boon starting Friday in the last non-conference game before Big Ten play resumes.
On Wednesday, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo offered good news for his team on the injury front. Senior forward Malik Hall, who has been out because of a foot injury during a Nov. 18 win against Villanova, is expected to return to action.
In addition, sophomore guard Jaden Akins has healed during the break after being bothered by a foot injury.
“We’re a better basketball team with those guys,” Izzo said. “We’re going to be a better basketball team with them. Whether it’s enough, only time will tell.”
Four players are averaging double figures in scoring for the Spartans: Joey Hauser (14.1 points), Tyson Walker (13.9), A.J. Hoggard (12.7) and Hall (12.0).
Buffalo also had eight days off after a 129-62 win over SUNY Canton on Dec. 21.
“This is an athletic, driving team,” Izzo said of Buffalo. “They have one bad loss and that’s it. I’m concerned about that.”
Playing a basketball power on the road won’t be anything new for the Bulls, who have played at UConn and West Virginia already in their non-conference slate.
Buffalo enters averaging 79.8 points per game and is led in scoring by Curtis Jones (14.8 points) and Zid Powell (12.7).
–Field Level Media