Final Four streak driving seniors

Appling, Payne still setting out to not have streak of four-year players under Tom Izzo in the Final Four end on their watch as their final chance is on the horizon.

Tom Izzo has put together an impressive resume of Final Four appearances in his 19-year tenure at Michigan State but one accomplishment stands above the rest.

It is pretty well known and as good a recruiting pitch as any: Every four-year player at Michigan State under Izzo has played in a Final Four.

But no current play on the Spartans roster has played in a Final Four and seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are entering their final shot at continuing the streak.

"Nobody wants to be known as the first class to break the streak and I know I definitely don't," Appling said.

The streak also was in jeopardy in 2005 for seniors Alan Anderson, Tom Bograkos, Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert, but the Spartans made the run to the Final Four in St. Louis. The same held true in 2009 as Idong Ibok, Marquise Gary, Goran Suton and Travis Walton went all the way to the national title game in Detroit.

Four years later, Appling said keeping the streak alive is in the back of his mind.

"That's something that we use as kind of a motivating factor to push us," he said.

This season, though, as the Spartans entered No. 2 preseason and spent time as No. 1 early in the season after beating then-No. 1 Kentucky in Chicago on Nov. 12, the expectation has been something of Final Four or bust.

"That's one of the goals that we have as a team that we hope to get accomplish before the season's over," Appling said. "We can only work so hard in practice and in the film room and hope and pray that is gets us to where we want to go."

Junior Branden Dawson is well aware of the streak at hand for the pair of seniors and said the team is responding to the seniors to get them to Dallas.

"We definitely want to make it to the Final Four so they won't be the first class that didn't make it to the Final Four," he said. "That's a lot of pressure on two seniors."

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