Harris' aggressiveness a focus

Sophomore steps up wanting the ball against Harvard, something MSU might need more of this weekend and through the rest of the NCAA Tournament.

With Harvard at the free-throw line and making a comeback against Michigan State on Sunday, Denzel Valentine saw a look on Gary Harris' face he liked.

"He just had that look on his face of being determined," Valentine said.

Harris offered up a few simple words to his classmate.

"I just said give me the ball," Harris said.

Stuck in a hard-fought game that looked like it would be a runaway victory for the Spartans against the Crimson, it took holding on late to escape with a win.

Harris had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, but it is that aggressiveness and takeover mentality that coach Tom Izzo wants to see more from the sophomore guard.

The huddle that followed that interchange was exactly what Izzo wanted to see.

"I just love that part of the interaction with players," he said. "That made me feel good, confident, you looked in Gary's eyes and you could just see it, and Zel is his best friend so he read him right.

"I think Gary does (need to be more aggressive). He has to be."

Against Harvard, Harris said he spoke up to Valentine – who in turn told Izzo to give Harris the ball. The reasoning? "It was just time to do something," he said.

"They were going on a run and we needed to stop them," he said. "I felt like I was capable enough and I felt like I was in the right position to make some plays."

He made a pair of major ones. The first one broke a 55-55 tie with 9:06 to go with a 3-pointer to give the Spartans the lead back. After exchanging the lead, MSU was back up 65-62 and Harris again hit from deep to give MSU the 68-62 lead and it never looked back.

"I knew it was do or die time and they took the lead," he said. "It could have easily gone the other way and we could be done and at home right now watching.

"At that point, you just want to step up, make plays."

Such a performance from start to finish is something the Spartans likely will need from him at some point in this tournament. So far, he hasn't need a big scoring output as Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson had big performances against Delaware and Harvard, respectively.

"With the guys we have on this team, I feel like you can't take everybody away," Harris said. "It's live and somebody can go off at anytime."

In that, he said how aggressive he is depends on who else is having a big game.

"We've just gotta figure out who's feeling it that game and get them the ball," he said.

But when his time comes, he knows what is at stake in March.

"It's the best time of the year and you want to step up and help your team win," he said

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