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.