"Livewire" Dawson making an impact in return

Michigan State forward learned from experience in last year's tournament and is serving as a spark for the Spartans since he got back from injury.

In his first run through the NCAA tournament, Michigan State forward Branden Dawson learned something as he saw it come to end.

Duke senior Seth Curry scored 29 points and hit six 3-pointers as no one on the Spartans could stop him and their season ended in the Sweet 16.

Since then Dawson knows he wants to be the one to step up and stop a hot shooter.

"Curry, he was just making a lot of shots and I didn't step up and say, ‘Hey, let me get him,'" Dawson said. "I think I was upset with myself because I knew I could have guarded him.

"It all falls back from that game."

So when Iowa's Devyn Marble opened on a tear against Michigan State, Dawson spoke up in the huddle to guard him.

"The kid was making shots," Dawson said. "You have to have that guy that is just going to say, ‘Hey, I got him.' That's what I did. I asked coach let me get him."

Having the 6-foot-7 junior back in the lineup the past two games has given Michigan State a defensive stopper back that it hadn't had in about a month as he was out with a broken hand. It was a welcome sight for Tom Izzo after games with poor defense.

"B.J. kept saying to give him (Marble) to him in the huddle," Izzo said. "That, for us, was a step in the right direction."

It also has provided the Spartans with an energy that Spartans guard Travis Trice called "crazy."

"You look at him on one end and he's catching an alley-oop and on the other end, he's volleyball spiking somebody's shot down," Trice said. "Anytime you have somebody like that, it energizes your team. He had plays where he had rebounds over everybody's head. It's good to see him like that."

The Spartans have been slowly but surely getting healthy in the past month, but Dawson was the final piece to return to the starting lineup that Izzo envisioned before the year.

Dawson said he is starting to come back more and more as he gets involved. He also said he is feeling in the best shape of his career in East Lansing.

"It all falls back to running on the treadmill and getting the work in," he said. "I was coming in and running in between classes and while the team was working out, I was down there doing defensive drills on the court. It just feels good to be in way better shape and have so much energy."

The work has paid off and Michigan State is hoping to continue reaping the benefits as it heads into a final regular-season game and then the postseason.

"He is just coming back," Izzo said. "He has got a ways to go, but boy it is fun to have him back because he is a livewire."

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