When Michigan State's Adreian Payne blew a baseline dunk and crashed to the ground on his back and head, it looked like the junior forward might have suffered a potentially serious injury.
Thankfully for the Spartans, Payne somehow popped up essentially unharmed, the only thing bruised his ego. He even crawled to pick up the loose ball, called timeout and walked the sideline under his own power.
An injury to Payne would have been an especially cruel twist of fate because he is enjoying the best stretch of his previously inconsistent career. He had scored 12 or more points in each of Michigan State's previous four games prior to a nine-point, 11-rebound effort Thursday. Plus, he'd tallied a combined 35 points in two games this season against first-place Indiana.
Coach Tom Izzo's reaction when Payne walked to the bench after the hustle play embodied the relief of Spartans fans at seeing their standout forward give such impressive effort after surviving unscathed. Izzo wrapped Payne in a bear hug, a nice moment between player and coach.
- Sports & Recreation