Gary Harris has let his hair grow a bit more this season, and after an uplifting win at Iowa, he let his hair down. Harris walked by Denzel Valentine in the locker room after Michigan State's 71-69 overtime victory over the Hawkeyes quacking like a duck, evidence that the Spartans are having fun despite the grind of playing without two of their starters. Harris, booed loudly throughout much of the game in Iowa City, said No. 7 Michigan State relishes hostile environments like Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where No. 15 Iowa had won 20 straight before the Spartans came to town for Tuesday night's game. "We like the hostile crowds,'' Harris said, asked how Michigan State has managed to go 10-0 away from East Lansing and 6-0 on opponents' home courts. "We know we have to stay strong on the road, it's just so, so everybody stays closer together. There's no better feeling than walking out and the crowd is silent.'' The Spartans' next trip is to New York City, where they'll face Georgetown (11-9) at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Super Bowl. As well-traveled as Harris has been in his basketball career, not just at Michigan State but as a part of various high school and AAU All-Star teams, he has never played in the fabled venue, known widely as "The World's Most Famous Arena.'' Saturday's tilt between the traditional powers might better resemble some of the Wrestlemania events held at the Garden — The Hoyas rank 15th in the NCAA with 22.8 fouls per game, while Michigan State is averaging 18.4 fouls per game after being whistled for 29 infractions against Iowa. It will be only the second meeting between the Spartans and the Hoyas, and the first since Michigan State scored an 80-68 victory in 1986 NCAA tournament, with Scott Skiles scoring 24 points in an NCAA Midwest Regional clash in Dayton, Ohio. "It's Georgetown, the program's name speaks for itself,'' Harris, a sophomore projected to be an NBA lottery draft pick, said. "I've never played in The Garden, so that's going to be another fun game.'' As tough and gritty as the Spartans like to play, the team has been at its best when it plays loose and has fun. The win at Iowa was no picnic, however, particularly for Harris. "They did a great job defensively, they face guarded me a couple of times, and I had to rush a couple shots,'' said Harris, who was 3-of-9 shooting but compensated with six rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals that the stat keeper missed in the scorebook. "My teammates stepped up, and I was able to get a couple of them some open shots,'' he said. "I think we held them to one field goal the last 14 minutes, or something (14:55), and that's what won us the game.'' Harris said he and his teammates will continued to be fueled by naysayers who challenge that the Spartans can't win the Big Ten regular-season title with Adreian Payne (foot) and Branden Dawson (hand) sidelined by injuries. "Of course people are writing us off — why wouldn't they?'' Harris said. "Two of our top guys are out, we're not supposed to win these games, guys aren't supposed to be stepping up like they are, but we are, so that's just helping us get better. "Once we get them back, there's going to be some turn up.''
Michigan State basketball star Gary Harris says Georgetown name 'speaks for itself
Michigan Live | Jan 30