The greatest scorers in Michigan State University men's basketball history

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Michigan State Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo coaching at Operation Hardwood II Basketball Tournament
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Michigan State Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo coaching at Operation Hardwood II Basketball Tournament

The Michigan State Spartans men's basketball program has been known for their defensive prowess under the coaching regimes of Jud Heathcote and especially Tom Izzo. However, one of the biggest differences in Izzo and Heathcote was that Heathcote regularly had a 20+ ppg scorer on his teams. Izzo's teams have relied on defense and an efficient offense.

These are the greatest scorers in Spartans history. These players are amongst the all-time Spartan legends in total points, points per game, and memorable scoring performances.

Julius McCoy (1953-1956)

Julius McCoy was the first prolific scorer in Spartans history. While he only played in 66 games, McCoy is third amongst all Spartan players in scoring average (20.9) and is the all-time leader for Spartan forwards.

McCoy was the Spartans leading scorer in 1954 and 1956. His 27.2 average during the 1955-1956 season is the fourth highest regular season scoring average in Spartans history as Scott Skiles (27.4), Ralph Simpson (29.0), and Terry Furlow (29.4) are the only ones who's surpassed McCoy's feat.

Mike Robinson (1971-1974)

Like McCoy, Robinson was a prolific scorer before the Jud Heathcote era. He was also similar in that he didn't play in as many games as some other all-time Spartan greats.

Robinson only played in 71 games. Despite that, his 1,717 points are ninth in Spartans history. His 24.2 ppg average is by far the highest career scoring average by any Spartan. Robinson led the Spartans in scoring from 1971-1974. His best season was the 1972-1973 season in which he averaged 25.3 points per game.

Greg Kelser (1975-1979)

Earvin "Magic" Johnson was the Spartans headliner during this era. However, Kelser was the Spartans primary scoring threat.

Kelser played in an era that featured three of the Spartans greatest scorers from 1977-1979 with Magic and Jay Vincent. Despite that, he led the Spartans in scoring from 1976-1979. He is one of four players in the Spartans "2,000 points club" with 2,014 points. His 17.5 ppg average is also eighth in Spartans history.

Scott Skiles (1982-1986)

Scott Skiles is mostly recognized as a journeyman NBA head coach and for his 30 assist performance with the Orlando Magic in 1990, a record that no one has recently come close to breaking. In addition to his professional accolades, Skiles was a solid collegiate basketball player whose contributions were made on the scoreboard.

Scott Skiles is third in points with 2,145 points. His 18.4 scoring average is fifth amongst all Spartans and his 27.4 average from the 1985-1986 season is the third highest regular season average in Spartans history. His 850 points in 1985-1986 is a mark that no Spartan has come close to touching.

Skiles recorded three 40 point performances in the span of two months in 1986. The most points he scored in a game was 45 in a loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in January of 1986. Skiles also holds the freshman scoring record as he tallied 32 points in a match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1983.

Steve Smith (1987-1981)

Steve Smith followed Skiles as the next great guard in Spartans history. Smith's 2,263 points are second in Spartans history while his 18.5 ppg average is fourth. Smith was the Spartans leading scorer from 1988-1991. His best season featured a 25.1 scoring average in 1990-1991.

Shawn Respert (1990-1995)

The last star guard of the Heathcote era was Shawn Respert. Respert had a long and healthy career that featured the second highest scoring average in MSU history (21.2). Respert is the only Spartan to be in the 2,500 points club as he totaled 2,531 points in his career.

With the exception of the 1990-1991 campaign in which he played one game, Respert led the Spartans in scoring for four years straight. His best scoring performance was in 1994 when he scored 43 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Honorable Mentions: Terry Furlow, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jay Vincent, Stan Washington

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SOURCES:

MSU All-Time Stats. Accessed November 10, 2010.

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