Payne back for this rivalry game

After missing first meeting with Michigan, Spartans senior forward is back from a foot injury and looking to contribute to a different outcome.

It has been almost a month since Michigan and Michigan State met on the hardwood.

At that time, Spartans forward Adreian Payne was in the middle of a seven-game stretch on the bench with a foot injury.

This time around, Michigan State has its senior star back in the fold to take on the Wolverines with the Big Ten lead on the line.

"It was tough (to be out)," Payne said. "I knew I could have been out there and out there to help them win and fight – fight for the win. It was hard to sit and watch them struggle and lose to them.

"I'm glad I'm healthy now and I can go out there and play this game."

Payne is averaging18 points per game and just less than seven rebounds in the five games since his return.

He also is hitting 44.4 percent of his 3-point attempts and 54.2 from the field.

"I think offensively, Adreian is playing as good as he can play," coach Tom Izzo said. "He's passed the ball out. He's hit some guys on the weakside. He's made 3s. He's made free throws.

"He's gotten to the line a little bit more and he's shown he can post and still do some things in the post."

Izzo did say the 6-foot-10 forward needs to get his conditioning back after his absence, but it is clear how he changes the game.

Now, Payne is focused on impacting the game and trying to get revenge for a five-point loss in East Lansing.

"We gotta make our easy baskets and stay focused," he said. "That's the main thing.

"Everything else will take care of itself."

The Spartans also have the benefit of coming off their best shooting performance in conference play, hitting 57.7 percent from the field and 53.1 percent from 3-point range against Purdue on Thursday.

Payne was a key part of that, hitting four 3-pointers as the Spartans hit a school-record 17.

"It was big because we came out, we shot well, but everybody had been putting n extra work trying to get better," he said. "It showed that game and we are just going to continue to do that."


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