Appling bounces back, keys Spartans

Senior point guard ties career high with 27 points in win against New Orleans.

It had been two weeks since Keith Appling had seen a 3-pointer go through the hoop in a game.

On Saturday, he didn't see one miss, going 4 for 4 on his way to 27 points to lead Michigan State to a 101-48 win against New Orleans.

"Maybe one of the biggest thrills of the night was Keith coming off one of his worst games," Izzo said. "He really bounced back."

Coming off a four-point performance against Texas, Appling's 27 points tied a career high – which he set in the Spartans' season opener – and gave him five games with more than 20 points this season.

The senior point guard also racked up eight assists as the Spartans had 25.

"I thought that was one of the things we got to get back to getting 20 plus assists," head coach Tom Izzo said. "Hitting 25 of 36 baskets was impressive."

Sophomore Denzel Valentine had six assists to go with 10 points and 13 rebounds, his second double-double of his career.

The Spartans struggled out of the game against New Orleans, but Appling keyed a 15-2 run with a 3-pointer and three assists to open the game up for MSU.

Two of the three assists in the first-half run went to Gary Harris for 3-pointers, who got into a rhythm after missing his first few shots.

"We got Harris some great shots early, they just didn't go," Izzo said. "He bounced back and that was encouraging."

Harris finished the night with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Adreian Payne also had 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Spartans, fueled by the efforts of Valentine, Harris and Payne on the glass, outrebounded by the Privateers 54-31.

"I know the competition," Izzo said. "I like the way those (New Orleans) played early. Yet, our size, I think bothered them, our rebounding bothered them a little bit"

The Spartans were without Branden Dawson, who had a swollen shin from being kicked in practice Friday.

"He's fine, there's no problems, there's no bones cracked or anything like that he just got a bad bruise," Izzo said.

The Spartans also are set to get center Matt Costello back in action after missing time with mono. Izzo said the sophomore was cleared to play, but he decided not to play him and should have him back next week.

MSU will travel to Penn State to open Big Ten play on New Year's Eve.


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