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March 22, 2013AUBURN HILLS - Michigan State junior guard Keith Appling said his knee is feeling fine, one day after limping on it at times during Michigan State's 65-54 victory over Valparaiso in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Appling doesn't expect knee tendonitis to be an issue during Saturday's game against Memphis in the third round (2:45 p.m.).
"It's nothing serious," Appling said. "I'll be all right. I'll be able to play as much as coach needs me to play tomorrow. I feel like I'm a pretty tough person. I can fight through a little bit of pain."
Appling is coming off two of his better shooting performances of the season from long range. Appling was 3-of-5 from 3-point range against Valparaiso after going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in Michigan State's loss to Ohio State last Saturday in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
"Keith has been shooting the ball better and better," said Tom Izzo.
Appling was not satisfied with his defense on Thursday in the second half against Valpo point guard Erik Buggs. Appling will need to take his defense up a notch against Memphis' first-team All-Conference USA point guard Joe Jackson.
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"Keith is the type of player where he can make plays and get his team going," said Spartan power forward Adreian Payne, "especially when he is playing defense up in his man. We are just looking forward to him leading us to a win."
When asked about his matchup with Jackson, Appling said: "I've known Joe Jackson a long time.?He's obviously a pretty good player. But at the end of the day, basketball, it's a team sport, and I really try not to get into one-on-one matchups."
That's a lesson the players voiced after losing to Ohio State last Saturday. Tom Izzo and the players said they believe they caught up too much in individual battles against the Buckeyes and sometimes lost focus on team concepts on defense.
"At the end of the day, I'm going to need my teammates to help us with the game," Appling said. "So I'm not really into one-on-one matchups.
"It's going to be an interesting matchup," Izzo said. "I think him and Joe - that's worth the price of admission right there.?We just got to make sure that we use that in the right way."
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