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`Spartans Down Wildcats En Route to 2nd Straight Win

Posted By Colin Teskey On Jan 16 2011 @ 3:20 pm In Michigan State | No Comments

Today fans at the Breslin Center got treated to their second thriller in less than a week when MSU needed overtime to down the Upstart Northwestern Wildcats. This was the second meeting between the two teams this season and the 2nd time the Spartans squeaked out a victory. The Wildcats are proving that there will be no easy games this season in the Big Ten and that there team colors and pride are just as important as any other school in the country.

The Spartans came out a tad sluggish in the early going and were trailing the Wildcats by as much as 8 in the first half and went in to the locker room down by 5 at halftime. Biggest strength of the Spartans in the first half was their ability to rebound and start the fast break which was  orchestrated perfectly by forward Delvon Roe. In the first minute of the game Roe reached up to block a John Shurna shot and taking the ball down the floor leading to a two point bucket by Kalin Lucas. Michigan State struggled to get in to a rhythm offensively in the first half and they trailed Northwestern by five going into the second half.  After  the intermission Spartans were able to gage the adversity of being down at home by getting key production from their bench and shutting down Northwestern star John Shurna, who was averaging 20.1 points per game coming into this one but finished with 6 points. 1 key member of the Spartans comeback was Freshman guard Kieth Appling, who  finnished with a game high 19 and hit a key three late in the second and iced two key free throws in overtime. Appling hit a clutch three pointer with 3 minutes remaining which was his fourth three pointer at that point giving the Spartans a narrow one point edge. After trading baskets back and forth Northwestern had a lead late but Michigan State didn’t quit and got 4 clutch free throws from Draymond Green at the line to send the game in to OT. Green continued to give the Spartans momentum heading into overtime when he picked off a Northwestern pass 2 minutes in to OT and slammed it home leading to home crowd roar. On the next possession Kieth Appling was found wide open on the wing and barried his fifth three pointer of the game and followed that up with two more free throws late to secure a State victory.  The Freshman marveled me in terms of his poise and his confidence for a player his age sinking 5 three pointers and adding to the long list of players Tom Izzo can use on any given night. Last week against Wisconsin we saw Draymond Green light up the Badgers for 26 points getting points in the paint and draining three pointers from beyond the arc. The Spartans have players who can score from all areas of the court which makes them perfectly capable of winning tight games come back from deficits proving that this week winning back to back Overtime games. What also should be recognized is the defensive play of Delvon Roe who held The Wildcats top scorer John Shurna to only six points and 2-10 shooting.  Delvon’s play may go unnoticed on the stats sheet but it definitely didn’t slip under my radar or Izzo’s radar and he will likely see more monitues against opposing teams top big men going forward. shutting down their top scorer however didn’t keep the Wildcats from making this one interesting as they got some timely scoring from other players such as Drew Crawford pitching in with 16 and Michael Thompson adding 15 points. Michigan State did a great job game planning for John Shurna and frustrated him all night and credit should be given to Delvon Roe who impressed me so much on the defensive side of the ball and created energy for the Spartans all game. Getting 5 blocks in this game and leading the surge for the fast rush allowed the Spartans to attack the open floor and gave this offense some spunk all around the floor.

Having kind of games that Delvin Roe and Kieth Appling  had are great signs of their progression being a part of the younger core of this team, and their pressence can be counted on again when they start facing stiffer competition later this week with dates at Illinois and at Purdue. The Spartans have little time to savor this game with a date against the Illini on Tuesday. The Illini poses one of the best point guards in the country in Dmitry Mcamey and have a good blend of youth and veteran leadership to contend with anybody especially when Mcamey shoots over 45% from three point land. Illinois is coming off two tough road losses to Penn State and Wisconsin and has back to back home games against Michigan State and against the undefeated Buckeyes. MSU matches up favorably against the Ilinni on the glass with Draymond Green averaging (8.9 rebounds) and Delvon Roe (averaging 5.9 rebounds) this is a game where they can most certainly take away any second chance opportunities and get some fast break points. Overall it was a good week for the Sparty’s and beating two tough teams at home in overtime is going to be good for this teams toughness going forward and could lead to healthy stretch of wins down the road.

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