Travis Trice spent the first three years of his career playing with a point guard that thrived on slashing and getting to the hoop.
”Last year, when it was a close game, Keith would just get to the rim all the time,” junior Denzel Valentine said. “They were kind of like copies of each other. With him playing like that, I think we are a really good team.”
In Michigan State’s 60-53 win against Illinois, Trice did not hit a 3-pointer for just the second time in Big Ten play this season. But he finished the game with 18 points, with four two-point field goals – tied for his second-highest total in conference play.
“My jump shot wasn’t hitting in the first half, so I was like, I gotta attack,” Trice said. “It’s something I’ve been working on since summer and I have a chance to use it now.”
The added element to Trice’s game has helped open up the Michigan State offense lately, as the Spartans are on a four-game winning streak. The senior has earned his keep as a shooter with a high assist-to-turnover ratio through his career, but the recent surge of looking to slash and get inside more has diversified his game – and made things easier on his teammates.
“It gives us other options,” Valentine said. “Instead of relying on the 3 and our midrange shots, we can get to the rim and also it brings the defense in so the kick outs are wide open and we get guys wide open on the perimeter.
”When Travis is playing like that, it opens up our offense.”
And it is giving those teammates flashes of Appling at the same time – and Trice gave him some credit after seeing his game.
“Keith was one of the best guards coming out of Michigan State and he was really good at attacking,” Trice said. “You can give Keith some of that credit.”