There was a time midway through the 2nd half where I was nervous -- I think you know when, Florida State had erased a 12-point Michigan State lead by finding room inside the paint to score. I was concerned, I'm pretty sure you were concerned as well.
However, for the last ten minutes of the game Florida State ceased focusing on the inside, MSU increased their steals...and everything fell into place. The Spartans had by far their best performance of the season tonight with a 65-49 victory over a Seminole team forecasted to be the third best in the ACC this season. With the victory the Spartans secured a Big Ten win in the B1G-ACC challenge for a third straight year, and life, as they say, is good. Let's break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Keith Appling: He had a couple miscues, which will be covered
laternow (Edit - forgot to mention in the first draft, had some point guard growing pains, especially the held ball when he was taking instructions from Izzo, but less worse than it has been - P.R.). However, I think we've waited for Appling to have this sort of breakout performance, and did he ever. The damage: 24 points and 7 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks. He was touted as a scorer out of Detroit Pershing, and for the first time this season he showed all facets of his offensive game -- full-court an quarter-court drives to the basket, threes, free throw shooting - all on display, and it was great.
- Draymond Green: I think we might be a bit too hard on Draymond. His stroke from three isn't the prettiest, but it was effective: he scored 16 points in part of 2-5 three point shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals to one turnover. I've said it before, I'll say it again. If Draymond's open and he has an open look, it's not the worst idea for him to shoot it. I think it was his best game this year, and as a bonus he became the 42nd Spartan to top 1,000 points for his career.
- Brandon Wood: He absolutely carried MSU through the first half when scoring was scarce. He also got his first double-double at MSU with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He was every bit the fifth-year senior Michigan State expected when they got him for one year from Valparaiso.
- The Jimmy V Speech. I can watch this a million times, and it will never get old.
- The inside defense. Ugh, it was bad at times. Dan Dakich is one of ESPN's best color commentators, and he nailed it perfectly -- in the first half it always seemed like Payne was a bit late to the ball, and etc. That said, Florida State's strength was its post play, so that shouldn't be surprising. With that also said, why did they shy away from the inside? It seemed like they got down by six midway through the second half, got spooked, and started the jump shot parade. They went away from the inside; that only helped State.
- Not much else? The shooting was good today for MSU -- 42% from three, 75% of free throws. The Spartans only committed 12 turnovers. The normal bugaboos went away for MSU tonight.
- The cheerleader that was injured in the first half. That was a scary moment. Cheerleader Taylor Young fell and stopped moving off a pyramid during the first half, and the Breslin Center was dead quiet during that time. Thankfully she was able to move her arms and give a double thumbs up as she was wheeled off. Michigan State athletics has had too many neck injuries (gymnast Kathryn Mahoney was paralyzed last year in practice, hockey walk-on Branden Carney had feeling in his extremities after a neck injury this month) lately.
- Injuries in this game in general. Austin Thornton was playing very well tonight I thought, but suffered a broken jaw. He'll most likely be out for a while. Branden Dawson could have a sprained ankle. Brandon Wood has a tooth loose. What says Izzo to all this?thesnews_sports State News SportsIzzo said Thornton was playing well before the jaw injury. Also said Dawson sprained his ankle and Wood has a tooth issue: "I loved it."