Appling, Payne hope to get first win at UM

Spartans seniors are 0-3 at Crisler Center in their career and hope to avoid going winless in their careers in Ann Arbor, which hasn't happened since 1987-90.

With less than 30 seconds remaining, then-junior Keith Appling brought the ball up the court with a chance to break a tie and a winless career at Crisler Center.

Michigan's Trey Burke saw his move coming and picked Appling's pocket, racing down the court for a dunk and a 58-56 lead for the Wolverines, who won 58-57 last March.

The loss was the third in a row for Appling at Michigan, where three of the past four games between MSU and UM have been decided by a point.

"I can't change what happened last year," Appling said. "The only thing I can do is let that be motivation to help me become a better player. I really don't think about it as much, but I'm pretty sure the fans are going to remind me of it."

Needless to say, Appling said he doesn't have any good memories of playing the Wolverines on the road in his four-year career. It also is "definitely" a surprise to him that he is heading into his final game in Ann Arbor still in search of his first win.

"As a kid I always grew up watching Michigan and Michigan State play one another and Michigan State would always come out victorious," he said, "but once I started my career here, I haven't had the opportunity to win there.

"We've just gotta continue to play as a team and hopefully we can come out with a victory."

Sitting at 2-5, Appling and fellow senior Adreian Payne already are assured of having a losing regular-season record against Michigan – the first time that has happened in a four-year stretch since 1996-99.

A win Sunday in Ann Arbor would close that gap and would prevent the first four-game losing streak for Michigan State at Michigan since 1987-90.

It also would avoid a similar fate from last year, as the loss knocked the Spartans into an eventual runner-up finish in the Big Ten. A win this time would give the Spartans a leg up on the Wolverines in the Big Ten race and leave them in the driver's seat, adding more to what already is a big game.

"It's a lot," Payne said. "It's always a big game and exciting and fun whenever you get to play your rivals because you know you're going to get the best from them and you're going to get the best from your team as well."

Being a senior, Payne said the realization of what likely is the final go at the rivalry means.

"As you get older, you know every game is getting more important to you," Payne said. "It's just a matter of it being your last year going through it again and you want to be the best.

"Every game matters, but as you get older, it's eats at you because you know it can be the last one."

And with it being the last one, Appling plans on doing whatever it takes to come out on top Sunday and avoid last year's outcome.

"It's already tough to win on the road in the Big Ten," he said. "We just wanna go down there with extra focus, try to prepare as well as we can and, hopefully, that puts us in position to come out with a win."

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