Michigan State’s starting lineup looked different Friday afternoon but the outcome was familiar, as the Spartans beat Mount St. Mary’s University 98-65 without Gary Harris, due to an ankle injury.
Branden Dawson, Keith Appling and Adreian Payne did not start the game due to class attendance issues.
“It’s just a minor little thing,” Izzo said. “Three or four years ago I probably would have let outside pressures dictate to me what I do, but I’m going to do what I think is right.”
Harris has been nagged by the ankle injury since the offseason, and Izzo decided to give Harris the day off in hopes he can be healthy for the North Carolina game.
“I’m thinking about his future, my future, our team’s future,” Izzo said.
Without their usual starters for about the first six minutes of the game, the Spartans got off to a slow start but were able to build their lead to 50-38 at halftime. Appling was Michigan State’s leading scorer in the game, scoring nine of his 17 points in the first half and was more willing to drive the ball in the past few games.
“The way that the new rules work, it’s an advantage for the offensive player,” Appling said. “I just try to be aggressive and keep the defense on their heels.”
In the second half, the Spartans were able to improve their defense, starting on a 20-5 run.
Getting their first starts of the year, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine both had 15 points and six and seven assists respectively.
“We got a great game out of Trav,” Izzo said.
Rebounding has been a concern for the Spartans all year, and on Friday, MSU out-rebounded St. Mary’s 40-31. Dawson collected 10 rebounds for the third straight game.
So far, the most noticeable trait of MSU has been their next-man-up attitude. Trice and Valentine filled in nicely in their first starts of the year and redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski showed off his highly touted shooting ability, going 2-3 from beyond the arch and 3-4 from the field, with his one two point shot being a jumper with his foot on the three point line.
Even when using their usual starting five, the Spartans have an abundance of talent that prevents them from needing a big night from one particular player in a given night.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports
Photo: David Defever