With Travis Trice still out of the lineup Tom Izzo knew his Michigan State squad would be tested by Boise State on Tuesday night. However, Izzo didn’t count of losing freshman Gary Harris who suffered a shoulder injury early in the game leaving the Spartans shorthanded. Despite the two losses the Spartans found a way to win.
“They (Boise State) played hard, they played tough and somewhere you give credit for hanging in there through some bizarre things of injury, poor foul shooting, foul trouble and bizarre plays,” said Izzo. “Yet somehow we found a way to beat a good basketball team that will win some games.”
Izzo had no problem pointing out the role Keith Appling played in the win as the junior led the Spartans to victory.
“Keith Appling was the man,” said Izzo. “I think he wanted to watch somebody work since the spring and earn what he is getting. He’s done it the old fashioned way and worked his way in. Now there is no question or doubt in him mind for why we push him like we do. He played for forty minutes. He had five rebounds, 22 points and seven assists. He turned it over a few times, but he did an unbelievable job.”
While Appling stepped up Izzo was not happy with his teams overall defensive performance.
“I wasn’t very pleased early,” said Izzo. “I thought in the second half we defended much better. We didn’t handle the dribble drive. I’m a little disappointed because my assistants did a hell of a job on the report. I think everyone of you even figured out that number two goes left. We didn’t do a good job on reading that. Other than that I think we did pretty good defensively. I don’t know what we are going to do with the elbow thing, I’m struggling with that. Petty good job defensively for the most part, covering a very difficult offense to cover with some guys that can shoot.”
While there is still uncertainty with Trice, the injury to Harris left some questioning if the play was clean.
“I’m not saying it was a flagrant call, but it was a good hit,” said Izzo. “We have this thing where if arms go up, that means it’s flagrant. He got hit pretty good on a moving screen and knocked his shoulder out. Best case scenario is he sprained his shoulder and is out for the week, worst case scenario he is out a lot longer.
Beside Appling the Spartans saw Denzel Valentine score 12 points and Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne each score 10 points on the night.
The Spartans return to the Breslin Center for an 8:15 p.m. tip on Friday night when they’ll host Oakland.