March 8, 2013

Izzo: 'that's the way you've got to win it in tournaments'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State kept its regular season Big Ten title hopes alive with an impressive 58-43 win over No. 21 ranked Wisconsin on Thursday night.

The Spartans also secured a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State shot just 36.9 percent against the Badgers. But a 15-0 advantage in fast-break points and a 23-4 edge in points off of
turnovers keyed the 58-43 victory.

"Honestly I don't know if it's enjoyment or relief," said Spartan coach Tom Izzo. "Come off a 3-game losing streak and you're playing Wisconsin, that doesn't lead to any long-sleeping nights, I can promise you that. But even through the first half I thought we missed some shots, I thought our defense was unbelievable. I thought we really hung in there. I thought we did a lot of good things defensively.
Offensively, we did not shoot the ball very well. (Gary) Harris struggled. (Adreian) Payne struggled. BJ (Branden Dawson) had some great moves inside, great rebounds, and just missed some shots. And yet to win it that way, that's the way you've got to win it in tournaments. You've got to find a way to win; you've got to find a way to compete."

Michigan State pushed its current winning streak against Wisconsin to five. The Spartans have won eight of their last 10 games against the Badgers.

Junior point guard Keith Appling has played a big role in Michigan State's recent success against the Badgers. And the former Detroit Pershing standout was the catalyst for his team's latest win over Wisconsin.

Appling scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added five rebounds in 29 minutes. Appling scored 14 of Michigan State's 33 second-half points against Wisconsin.

Appling's struggles during the three-game losing streak that preceded Michigan State's win on Thursday made the win against Wisconsin even sweeter for Izzo.

"That made my day and I really mean that," Izzo said. "I think he felt better about himself. Gary (Harris) bounced back in the second half and played a little bit better. And we had some guys that missed some shots. I think we took a step forward, and that's the most important thing. I did think that Wisconsin shot the ball poorly. They're just a better shooting team than that, and very uncharacteristic that they turned it over. This time of year, a lot of teams look tired so I'm sure they'll bounce back. But I'm just pleased with the win and I'm happy for Keith."

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