Valentine, Appling lead the way for MSU

Maybe it was a holiday hangover, but the Michigan State Spartans got off to a sluggish start in their 101-48 blowout over the University of New Orleans Saturday afternoon.

The Spartans committed six turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game. Tom Izzo was visibly upset with the way Adreian Payne began the game, benching the senior forward after only two minutes of play.

“I didn’t think he focused in,” Izzo said.

“He had seven rebounds when he should have had 15. I say that because it’s important to me and it should be important to him.”

Payne bounced back after his early struggles, and was one of four Michigan State players in double figures with 17 points while collecting seven rebounds. Keith Appling led all scorers with a career-high 27 points, 16 of which came in the first half.

Denzel Valentine had his first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Gary Harris had a poor game shooting, going 4-11 from three-point range and 7-17 from the floor. He missed his first four shots from behind the arc, but still managed to contribute 19 points and nine rebounds.

Branden Dawson did not play due to an injured leg and was missed after Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling got into early foul trouble.

“He got kicked in the shin during a drill,” Izzo said.

“He could have probably gone.”

Colby Wollenman and Russell Byrd stepped in for the short-handed Spartans and provided quality minutes for the Spartans.

Kenny Kaminski made his first appearance since the North Carolina game after being suspended indefinitely following that game. Kaminski contributed four points in seven minutes of play.

Matt Costello, who has been out with mononucleosis, has been cleared to play but did not play against New Orleans.

The Spartans open the Big Ten season New Year’s Eve in Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions of Penn State at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.

Photo: Michigan State Athletics

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