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January 10, 2013

Izzo lauds Dawson's 'best game'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Branden Dawson is starting to prove how playing hard from start to finish can make a difference.

The Michigan State sophomore, who is slowly coming back after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late last season, sparked a Michigan State victory last weekend against Purdue. On Thursday at Iowa, it was his energy, again, that played a huge role.

Dawson scored a career-high 17 points, including a dunk after a steal with less than a minute remaining, leading No. 22 Michigan State to a 62-59 victory over Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

"I think it was the second-best or maybe his best game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I think Russell Byrd said it best as we walked into the locker room. He said, 'Coach, you can't be on (Dawson) about having no motor tonight.'

"(Dawson) had some big blocks, some big plays, and he was tired. That was enjoyable because I like seeing him panting because it means he's pushing himself a little bit.

"He told me three times he was tired. That's good news because whenever he's tired that means that battery is running a little more, that motor is running and he made a couple of big blocks and a couple of big plays and I was really proud of Branden.

"I thought he definitely made some big-time plays and drives and passes. He's starting to get more and more comfortable."

Dawson's play early in the game kept Michigan State from getting blown of the floor. In the second half, his final steal ultimately won the game.

With the score tied at 56, Dawson stepped into a passing lane and went the distance for the dunk, giving Michigan State (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten) at 58-56 lead and late momentum for its first road win in the conference.

"It was definitely the turning point, but it wouldn't have happened without Keith Appling," Dawson said of his teammate. "He had pressure on the ball, and I was just playing the passing lane. Keith started the whole thing, he had pressure on the ball."

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