MSU win matters, but just the beginning

Spartans accomplish something Tuesday, but are not nearly satisfied with a win in November.

Fielding the first question regarding Michigan State's win against top-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday, Spartans senior Keith Appling sat at the front of the room with his usual smile – and his usual knack for brushing off the depth of a situation.

"Obviously, coming into this arena and a very big game, so that's just the way we approached it," Appling said, "but at the same time, it's still early in the season. We still have an opportunity to get better.

"It's a great win, but at the same time, we didn't accomplish anything tonight."

Tom Izzo turned to his point guard and responded: "We didn't accomplish anything, what the hell are you talking about?"

That's the reality.

The Spartans did accomplish something Tuesday night at the United Center.

Appling can downplay it because he has seen success and won in some big games – like last season's Champions Classic against Kansas.

"Gary (Harris) and Keith are downplaying it a little bit, but I think part of that is maturity," Izzo said. "They know how they played."

Their play accomplished something. It beat the No.1 team in the nation – a team composed of the best talent the recruiting class of 2013 had to offer.

The wasn't the end of the accomplishment though.

Was it a sign that programs built on players staying in school can compete with a freshman all-star team? Maybe. Did it show that experience tops talent? Sure – when the talent is experienced.

Did it remind people that MSU is a top basketball program in the face of striking out on some recruits lately? That's certainly fair.

But above all, it gave the Spartans a taste of what they want to accomplish with the rest of this season filled with immense potential and what the locker room indicated after the game.

"The locker room was great, but it wasn't like we won the national championship or something because we didn't," Izzo said.

This team has goals bigger than beating the No. 1 team in November and that's why Harris said it didn't mean anything because it didn't win a title.

"We didn't win a Big Ten Championship and we didn't win a national championship from this game," he said.

And that's why Appling and Harris downplayed the potential No. 1 ranking after the second game of the season – it isn't final. It's just the beginning.

There are more games on the schedule. Games with title consequences. Games with banner-raising potential.

"We want to be No. 1 at the end of the season, not the beginning," Appling said.

The end. As in ending in Arlington on a podium – in April.

"It means something in April," Harris said.

Now that would be an accomplishment, an accomplishment that cannot be downplayed.

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