(USA Today Sports Images)
Michigan State guard Keith Appling has been a dynamic playmaker at times this season and a smart, dependable decision maker the rest of the time – except in two losses to Indiana.
Appling struggled through his second nightmarish performance against the Hoosiers Tuesday night in a 72-68 loss. It was the first time No. 1 Indiana has beaten No. 4 Michigan State in East Lansing since 1991 and it was no surprise considering Appling came nowhere near his season averages of 14 points and four assists.
Michigan State's captain never found his rhythm in the first meeting with Indiana back in late-January because he was in foul trouble for most of the game and played just 19 minutes, a season low. He scored only three points in that game with no assists and fouled out.
Appling hoped to redeem himself Tuesday but he struggled once again finishing with just six points on 1-for-8 shooting. In two meetings with the Hoosiers, he has scored nine points, making two of 12 field goal attempts and has one assist with eight turnovers. Appling is Michigan State's leading scorer averaging 14 points and four assists and has been a steady defender, but he just hasn't looked like the same player or made nearly the same impact when facing the Hoosiers.
Indiana guards Yogi Ferrell and Victor Oladipo deserve a lot of credit for shutting down Appling who has been logging a lot of minutes with backup Travis Trice missing 10 games now with a head injury. There have been signs that fatigue has been an issue with Appling and coach Tom Izzo recently said he believes it has affected Appling's shooting.
In his most recent outing prior to losing to Indiana, Appling went 3-for-11 with four assists and four turnovers against Nebraska. Appling is definitely in slump shooting having made eight of 33 attempts over his last three games. The Spartans could really use a healthy Trice to alleviate some of the pressure on Appling and eat some of his minutes.
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