Here's hoping that Michigan State's 80-65 conquest of Indiana won't be the only game in which senior Draymond Green is the team's fourth-leading scorer.
When the other players step up, MSU is even better than its No. 16 national ranking.
The Spartans will take a 12-game winning streak to Big 10 newcomer Nebraska on New Years Eve, and it would be interesting if they could replay those two opening losses to North Carolina and Duke, because they definitely have improved since then. Next, Big 10 fave Wisconsin visits on Jan. 3.
Sophomore point guard Keith Appling, who was sort of in the shadows of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers as a frosh, is playing like a senior. He scored 25 points against the Hoosiers, gaining maximum efficiency from his 12 shots, which allowed him to achieve a total floor game with 7 assists and 6 rebounds. At the other guard, Brandon Wood was steady with 13 points.
Up front, where Green benefits from the support, junior Derrick Nix played great defense and scored 14 points with 6 of 9 shooting. Sophommore Adreian Payne also did his part with 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting.
Green scored 11 points. Only a few weeks ago, he poured in 31 to beat Gonzaga virtually all by himself, but the Spartans are far better off with a balanced team effort.
Actually, we saw the Spartans at their best and at their worst -- fortunatly, at their best twice. First was when they took a 14-point early lead, and second when they blew out the Hoosiers 35-11 during the final 10 minutes. In between, Indiana erased that early lead and went up by 9 points, 54-45.
For a while, it looked like Michigan State was going to blow the game and suffer what would have been a crushing defeat. The young Spartans will still have their ups and downs, but things are looking more and more on the up side.
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