Freshman Gavin Schilling, who averages 6.8 minutes, was pegged for his first start in the Spartans' 53-46 loss to Illinois.
"I found out the day after we lost to Michigan in a meeting that (coach Tom Izzo) was going to start me," Schilling said. "From there on, I had a good week in practice."
The good week continued into Saturday's game, as the freshman tied his career-high with seven points and hit 3 of 4 from the field.
In what was a lackluster performance overall from Michigan State, Schilling was the first to draw praise from Izzo as a bright spot.
"I thought Schilling played actually played pretty well," he said. "He played with some energy."
Schilling said he felt like he was just able to do his job on the court and filled his role.
"I tried to rebound and do the things that I can do and the outcome was positive," he said. "I had a good game and I felt pretty confident out there, too."
For the Chicago native, he said the confidence started in practice this week, where the lumps he has taken from Adreian Payne have paid off.
"It was just overall," he said. "Defending and playing one versus two on the offense, that kind of helped to get that feel inside and build more confidence."
But getting his first start before the week of practice began gave him the motivation to step things up.
"I really didn't want to screw up in practice to not start," he said. "I definitely played hard and went really hard this week and played good today.
"Everything is going great."