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Point guards key to Big Ten battle

Michigan State is about to play in its second top-five matchup of the season, and coach Tom Izzo is hoping the Spartans bring the right approach to the experience.

"It better not become another game," Izzo said Monday. "Otherwise, that's disappointing. And yet again, you don't want it to be where it's the biggest game of the year because you do have to learn in this program you're going to have a lot of big games."

The fifth-ranked Spartans host No. 3 Ohio State tonight, with an early lead in the Big Ten at stake. How the starting point guards perform could be pivotal. Both have good ones with much different styles.

Izzo is hoping Michigan State's Keith Appling doesn't worry too much about trying to outplay Aaron Craft.

"Sometimes Keith will do that," Izzo said. "It gets to be where those two get talked about and that's not good for Keith. He's got to just play his game. They're two different kinds of players, both very good defensively. But Keith can do some other things — scoring the ball — that I think Craft can't do. And Craft can do some things that Keith doesn't do as well."

Craft is a jack-of-all-trades for the Buckeyes. Appling looks for his offense early and often, both inside and outside the paint.

"You know he's going to make great plays," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "It's trying to disrupt his rhythm, if that's possible."

NO. 20 IOWA: Coach Fran McCaffery apologized for an outburst that got him ejected Sunday against Wisconsin.

AP POLL: Arizona is No. 1 for the fifth straight week. Florida moved up two spots to No. 10. No. 23 Illinois and No. 25 Kansas State replaced Connecticut and North Carolina.

WOMEN'S POLL: Connecticut remained No. 1. FSU moved up three spots to No. 18.

Point guards key to Big Ten battle 01/06/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 9:03pm]

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