Stats & Info: Adreian Payne

Key to OSU-MSU: Transition game

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
For the first time in series history, Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans will meet as top-5 opponents (9 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN).

The AP Poll isn't the only ranking with both teams in the top five.

When the Buckeyes and Spartans meet tonight, the key matchup could be in transition.

Michigan State's transition offense ranks third in the country with 24.3 points per game. Ohio State's transition defense allows just 7.4 points per game, fourth-fewest of any team.

Michigan State transition offense
The Spartans transition offense is led by Gary Harris (6.2 PPG) and Keith Appling (5.3 PPG), who lead the Big Ten in transition scoring.

Michigan State looks to push the ball quickly and often, whether it's off a missed shot, a made shot, or a turnover. The Spartans average 21.5 transition plays per game, the third-most in the country.

Much of their success in transition has to do with their ability to finish well around the basket. The Spartans are shooting 63 percent at the rim this season, eight-best among all teams.

Here's an example of a successful Michigan State transition play and how it transpired:

1. Against Kentucky, Branden Dawson grabbed a defensive rebound in the middle of the paint. Once Dawson secured the rebound, it's evident that all five Kentucky players were turned towards the ball with their eyes on Dawson, while Denzel Valentine was already leaking out in the open court.

2. Without dribbling, Dawson threw the ball ahead to Valentine for an outlet pass over the mid-court line. At the same time, three Michigan State players were spaced out while sprinting down the court with two Kentucky defenders behind them.

3. When Valentine caught the outlet pass, Aaron Harrison was the only Kentucky player back on defense.

4. Dawson -- who originally grabbed the rebound and threw the outlet pass -- beat four Kentucky players down the court, creating a 2-on-1 fast break for the Spartans. Valentine took just one dribble and threw an alley-oop to Dawson for an easy dunk. The entire play lasted less than four seconds.

Ohio State transition defense
Something will have to give in East Lansing tonight, because the Buckeyes transition defense has been just as dominant as the Spartans transition offense this season.

The Buckeyes limit their opponents to just 8.9 transition plays per game, the 14th-fewest of any team. Not only do they limit transition opportunities but they are efficient defending in transition as well. They hold their opponents to the 11th-fewest points per transition play. Teams are shooting just 43 percent against them on those plays.

Let's take a look at an example of an Ohio State defensive transition play that ended with a turnover:

1. After a defensive rebound by Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton, he passed the ball ahead to Demetrius Jackson near mid-court.

2. By the time Jackson caught the outlet pass, four Ohio State defenders were already ahead of the ball. As Jackson dribbled down the right side of the court, the four Ohio State defenders closest to Jackson all appeared to have their eyes on Jackson.

3. As Jackson attacked the basket, all five Ohio State defenders had at least one foot in the paint.

4. Aaron Craft forced Jackson to leave his feet under the basket, and Shannon Scott intercepted the pass.

The tempo of the game could play a large part in the outcome as Ohio State tries to limit Michigan State's easy points.

The Buckeyes transition defense is a large part why they rank second in the country in defensive efficiency and haven't allowed 70 points in any game this season.

UConn could struggle down low vs MSU

November, 9, 2012
When the Michigan State Spartans and Connecticut Huskies open up the season today, the Huskies will have their hands full.

Michigan State has an imposing duo down low of Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix along with small forward Branden Dawson. Does UConn have the manpower to compete with the Spartans around the basket?

Payne, Nix and Dawson all ranked in the top eight of the Big Ten last season in offensive rebound percentage. Dawson, who grabbed 13.3 percent of available offensive rebounds, led the conference.

The Spartans led the Big Ten in offensive rebound percentage and points in the paint per game last season.

UConn ranked 284th in the country in defensive rebound percentage last season. The Huskies lost their top two (Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi) and four of their top five defensive rebounders by percentage.

On the other end of the court, Payne led the Big Ten in block percentage -- he blocked 6.9 percent of opponents' field-goal attempts while he was on the court -- and Dawson ranked eighth.

UConn doesn’t have much down low. Their four returning frontcourt players -- Enosch Wolf, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey and Tyler Olander -- combined for eight post-up points last season. And all four of those players drew fewer than three fouls per game, so getting the MSU big men into foul trouble may be a difficult task.

If the Huskies won't be able to compete around the basket, how will they compete with the Spartans?

UConn will rely heavily on their backcourt trio of Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier and freshman Omar Calhoun. Boatright and Napier each took more than 20 percent of the Huskies' shots when they were on the court last season.

Keith Appling will be the key defensively for the Spartans. He'll be responsible for matching up with one of those guards. Last season, Appling held opponents below 30 percent shooting. Appling, Nix and Dawson were all in the top five in the Big Ten in fewest points per play allowed among the 82 players to defend at least 100 plays.

Of the 125 players nationally to defend at least 250 plays last season, Appling held opponents to the 12th-fewest points per play.

The combination of the Spartans' size and talent down low and their defense will make Kevin Ollie's debut an uphill battle for UConn.