Big men look to fill Payne's shoes

Costello, Gauna and Schilling trying to take advantage of opportunities with Payne out of the lineup. Gauna stepped up Wednesday, who will it be Saturday?

It had been two years since Alex Gauna had posted eight points in a game.

He had a chance to best his career high against Northwestern on Wednesday, but missed his final free-throw attempt.

"I wasn't even thinking about it honestly," he said. "Somebody did mention it to me after the game, but hopefully I will have more opportunities."

The opportunities are plenty right now for Gauna, Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling. With Adreian Payne out with a foot injury, the Spartans are looking for big men to step in and make an impact – and the pressure is there.

"Basically, we are almost told to try and fill Adreian's spot as best as we can," he said. "When your name is called, you've gotta be ready."

On Wednesday, that was Gauna. On Saturday at Illinois, it could be Costello or Schilling – every team is a different matchup Gauna noted.

"Alex was huge," Costello said. "I's just whoever shows up that night and hopefully all of us will show up. We need somebody to step up and he stepped up."

If he continues to do so, maybe that career high will fall soon for Gauna, who said he isn't a guy on the team that has to score.

"(On Wednesday), I was just focused on taking advantage of the opportunity," he said." Luckily, my number was called and I answered the bell."

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