In a total turnaround during the second half, the Michigan State Spartans came out victorious, 80-75 against the Fighting Illini during tonight’s game. Keith Appling was definitely showing Spartans fans why it is that he is on the list for the Bob Cousy Award. Appling scored 24 points during the game and had seven assists, leading his team to an amazing victory.
Things weren’t looking so good for the Spartans in the first half of the game. The Illinois Illini grabbed up an early lead 8-0 in the first minutes of the game. With a team that shoots 3-pointers like that, you’ve got to be on your toes. The first half finished, even with some outstanding plays from key Spartans including Brandon Dawson, Adreian Payne, and Gary Harris, with the Spartans trailing the Illini by ten points with a score of 37-27.
Once the two teams were back on the court, the Spartans began tearing up the paint. While the team had me worried after 9 turnovers in the first half, they began to force UI to make the same bad plays in the second half. For the first four minutes, Michigan State was 14-0, and it allowed the team to take the lead for the first time in the game.
All of this when the team began the game without Derrick Nix, who had been benched on account of failing to show up for a tutoring appointment (Good job to Tom Izzo for holding the guys to high academic standards), went into the second half without Travis Trice (he slammed to the ground and was out for the remainder of the game), and lost Gary Harris halfway through the second half (he started having back spasms).
While Appling was the big scorer of the game, Harris had 14 points before he went to the locker room and ultimately took the bench. Teammate Denzel Valentine had 14 points himself, being a key player in the free-throw game that ensued once the team was in the bonus and began taking the line regularly. Brandon Dawson took home 12 points and Payne took home 8 points. All in all, the team was looking great out there on the court.
The Spartans go up against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday, January 6.