Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State Spartans: Signs of Life Going Into Their Last Game

This was Michigan State’s season, scouting reports repeated adjectives like: powerful, fast, deep and smart. But despite the hype of Michigan State breezing right on through to the Final-Four, their record (23-7, 12-5) going into their final regular season game against Ohio State tells a different story.

Injuries and winter sicknesses have been the bigger story for the struggling Spartans throughout this season, all the way up to a recent lost to a bottom-feeding Illinois team.

But then a senior’s night against the Iowa Hawkeyes changed everything.

Keith Appling’s and Adrian Payne’s career was celebrated along with other seniors, while the whole Spartans team looked like the team that everyone was boasting about at the beginning of the season.

The Spartans were key when shooting from the field, making 58 percent of their shots, including making 10 of 17 three pointers. Leading the Spartans was Travis Trice, coming off the bench still accumulated 17 points. Appling scored 12 points and had 3 assist on his fifth game back, showing that some of his recent struggles are starting to subside. Payne came away with 14 points and 4 boards, making his presence felt on the court.

Helping Iowa stay somewhat close was Roy Devyn Marble who scored 24 points and had 5 assist. Also Aaron White who was the only other Iowa teammate to score in double digits put up 10 points.

With the Big-Ten title already captured by their arch-rival Michigan, the Spartans could have just slumped down and gave for the rest of the seasons, and it almost looked like that. But this Iowa game is just what Izzo needed. A turning point that could give the Spartans what they need for the Big-Ten Tournament and a run for the Final-Four.

This Final-Four run means a lot to Izzo. No senior class of Izzo’s has ever not made it to the Final-Four and Appling and Payne only have this year left to help Izzo keep his streak intact. But first things first, Ohio State led by Aaron Craft stands as their next test of faith and last heading into the post season. That game and the Wisconsin against Nebraska game will determine who gets the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament next week.

If the Spartans are back for real, teams in the Tournaments better not take them lightly. A healthy Spartans team means just what everyone was saying at the beginning of the season: Powerful, Fast, Deep and Smart.


Earlier this season, Michigan State was rolling and seemed prime for another Final Four run.

But after injuries derailed a once-promising season, the Spartans hit rock bottom in a loss to Big Ten bottom feeder Illinois last Saturday.

Then came Senior Night.

On a night that celebrated the careers of Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, the Spartans looked healthy and played well for the first time since that early season dominance in an 86-76 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Michigan State (23-7, 12-5) was money from the field, hitting 58 percent of their shots, including 10 of 17 from behind the arc. Travis Trice came off the bench and led the Spartans with 17 points. In his fifth game back from injury, Appling played his best game since returning, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists. Payne added 14 points and four rebounds to finish off his career at the Breslin Center.

Iowa (20-10, 9-8) was paced by Roy Devyn Marble, who scored 24 points to go along with five assists. Aaron White was the only other Hawkeye to score in double figures as he chipped in 10 points.

In an injury-riddled season for Tom Izzo‘s squad, Thursday night’s win just might be the turning point that gets this group of Spartans back on track. With the Big Ten regular season crown already awarded to arch-rival Michigan, the Spartans could have easily folded.

That’s never the case with Izzo at the helm.

No senior class of Izzo’s has ever failed to reach the Final Four. Appling and Payne have one final shot this year to keep that remarkable streak intact. For now, the Spartans finish off with a battle against Aaron Craft and Ohio State on Sunday. That game and Wisconsin‘s game at Nebraska will determine who gets the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament next week.

If Thursday night’s bounce-back was any indication, teams better not sleep on the Spartans. Remember, they were the No. 1 team in the country for a reason.

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