(I made it to my first game Saturday when this happened. My favorite part might have been Payne jumping on Nix's back as he came to the bench during the timeout)
There's not much to say about Michigan State wrapping up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title with two games left. It's pretty safe to say that even the most optimistic wouldn't have predicted the season this team has had so far.
There are just fantastic story lines everywhere on this team. Take your pick — Draymond Green's emergence as the Big Ten Player of the Year frontrunner, All-America First Team and, if we're honest about it, a National Player of the Year candidate; Tom Izzo rebounding from probably the most difficult season of his coaching career to lead a squad that embodies virtually every characteristic that he loves in a basketball team; Derrick Nix ... I mean, words can't really express the total transformation in his body, game and confidence since he arrived on campus, truly a testament to hard work; Austin Thornton becoming not only a valuable, but a vital contributor; I could seriously go on all day, so I'll stop. But I'm sure you all have favorite moments of your own, so go ahead and share those in the comments. Check out some links after the jump.
Men's Basketball Clinches Share Of Big Ten Championship - MICHIGAN STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
Izzo's statement on the league title: "It's kind of weird when you are at a practice and you find out that you've at least shared part of a Big Ten Championship because we cherish those. And you're right, every year that is a goal of ours - now it's a goal no matter how good we are. I would admit that this year it wasn't the first goal because we thought getting better every day was needed to even have a chance at a Big Ten Championship. And then when we got where we're in the hunt, we reassessed our goals and started moving forward. Now that part of it is there, the ultimate goal of any basketball, football team is to win an outright Big Ten Championship. So I won't lie - we're excited and proud of what's been accomplished so far, but it's miniscule compared to what we have a chance to accomplish down the road. And we're going to keep working for our ultimate goals, which as we reassess, are now to win the Big Ten outright, to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year, to go into the Big Ten Tournament feeling good about ourselves, to try to get the highest seed we can get which will help us in the NCAA Tournament. So because of that I can't really talk much about this because it's just one small part that at the end of the year will become a major part no matter what ends up happening. But for right now it's just one more mile marker on our trip to the ultimate goal."
Izzo says Nix suffers minor ankle sprain - Michigan State Spartans - CBSSports.com RapidReports
Hopefully, this is nothing serious: "Coach Tom Izzo said C Derrick Nix suffered a mild ankle sprain late in the game. "I don’t know what the deal will be on that. It wasn’t a rollover sprain but he tweaked it." Izzo added that he was pleased with Nix’s five assists. "He’s unselfish to a fault.""
Keith Appling turns it around at the end | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com
"But as quickly as Appling was turning into the goat, he surfaced as the hero for the Spartans. Much like he did last season when the Spartans outscored the Gophers 14-1 to close the game, Appling hit six straight free throws to close out a 14-3 run and give MSU a 66-61 victory. "That shows a little character on his part because you can imagine I wasn't really happy with him on those defensive mistakes," Izzo said."
Green's on 1,000 right now - LSJ Blogs: Hey, Joe
"As for Green, he's in position to load up on a slew of team and individual awards in the next few weeks, and he got a big one tonight with his 1,000th rebound. He joins Greg Kelser (1,092), Johnny Green (1,036) and Antonio Smith (1,016) in that club. Kelser was there tonight to call the game and congratulate him. Earlier in the season, Green told Kelser he's coming after his record. Kelser said "it's about time it's broken" and told Green he'd be there to present him a ball if he does it. That may have to take place in New Orleans if it happens."
Impressive Kirk Cousins could be in first-round discussion - NFL - Sporting News
Nothing to see here, just a young man showing the world what MSU fans already saw: "In addition to being technically sound, Cousins displayed a strong arm. The ball did not just come out of his hand, but rather shot out and got to the receiver in a flash. After a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, Cousins could not have helped himself any more than he did Sunday. He may have put himself in position to be considered by a team looking for a young, developmental quarterback at the end of the first round or top of the second."
QB Andrew Maxwell ready to run Michigan State's offense | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
Cousins' replacement is confident, so that's good: "Maxwell doesn't seem the least bit fazed at the pressure to follow a record-setting quarterback or to keep the program rolling after what it has achieved in recent seasons. "I didn't sign on to be the quarterback of an average football team," Maxwell said. "I signed on to be the quarterback of a team that has realistic expectations and goals every year to go to the Rose Bowl and be in BCS games and be a national championship contender. That's why I came here. That's what I'm preparing for, and that's what I'm ready for.""
Report: Michigan State football gets two commitments for class of 2013 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
"Michigan State received two verbal commitments for the football class of 2013 this weekend. Beaver Dam (Wis.) running back R.J. Shelton and Warren (Ohio) Harding's Jalyn Powell both said "yes" to Mark Dantonio, according to SpartanMag.com."