Spartans to face hot shooting guard for Marquette
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Michigan State came away from Thursday's victory over Rider in the Orlando Classic feeling pretty good about its defensive effort.
On Friday night in the semifinals, the Spartans will have their hands full once again.
That's when they'll face Marquette and senior guard Matt Carlino, who set an Orlando Classic record with 38 points in a 72-70 victory over Georgia Tech.
"Matt's a heck of a player," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "Matt's one of the best guards in college basketball. As you analyze how he played early in the season, not up to his capability. I'm not saying he's going to get 38 every night, but we'll take it if we want to."
Carlino was 8-for-14 from 3-point range and frustrated Georgia Tech for much of the game.
"Fifth-year senior hasn't played as well as I think he would like in the first couple games, kind of feeling his way out," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "We gave him a couple early looks and he's very aggressive to score. He's an excellent shooting guard."
Michigan State held Rider to 11 first-half points Thursday, the first time it's done that since 2003.
Friday's semifinal matchup was expected to be a battle between Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Gregory, his former assistant who was part of the Spartans staff when they won the national championship in 2000.
But Marquette — which had lost this season to Ohio State and Nebraska-Omaha — pulled off a bit of an upset.
Now Wojciechowski, the long-time Duke assistant in his first year as a head coach, will get a shot to earn a signature win six games into his first season with the Golden Eagles.
"You're talking about one of the premier programs in the United States," Wojciechowski said. "A Hall of Fame coach and great kids who compete like crazy. It'll be an honor to play against a great program like that."
The winner will advance to Sunday's championship game against Kansas, which defeated Tennessee, 82-67, in the first semifinal.