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January 8, 2014

Izzo irritated with victory over No. 3 OSU

EAST LANSING - Michigan State has two wins against top three teams and its hard-driving coach is not in the mood to celebrate the feat.

Keith Appling made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in overtime and finished with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds to help the fifth-ranked Spartans beat No. 3 Ohio State 72-68 on Tuesday night after blowing a 17-point lead in the second half.

Izzo was also upset that junior forward Branden Dawson had no rebounds in the second half and wasn't much of a factor around the rim.

"I should be happier than I am," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "But I'm a big picture guy and you shouldn't have those kinds of letdowns."

The Spartans (14-1, 3-0 Big Ten) led 55-38 and the Buckeyes forced overtime with a 20-3 run to close regulation.

"We kind of let our foot off the gas," Appling said.

Branden Dawson had just four rebounds - all in the first half - leading to the Buckeyes outrebounding Michigan State 42-28.

"They killed us on the boards because we had a couple guys who didn't show up," Izzo said, in reference to Dawson and sophomore wing Denzel Valentine, who caught Izzo's wrath after a behind-the-back dribble turnover during the height of OSU's full-court pressure run back into the game.









Ohio State (15-1, 2-1) entered the day as one of six unbeaten teams in Division I, getting off to its best start since 2010-11 when it began 24-0.

The Buckeyes almost ended the night still undefeated after a remarkable comeback.

Aaron Craft had a lot to do with it.

The senior guard's three-point play with 2:02 left pulled the Buckeyes within three points. After Ohio State missed shots, Craft dived on the court to get a loose ball and called time out with 1:01 left.

"That's what he does," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "That's how he plays."

On the ensuing inbounds play, Craft passed the ball off Michigan State's Adreian Payne's backside, got the ball back and made a layup to cut the deficit to one.

"I did that a year ago," Craft said of his savvy play that surprised Payne. "I saw it was open and we wanted to get a quick score."

Payne made one of two free throws on the ensuing possession. Then Payne went for a blocked shot against Craft, who had penetrated the lane with a spin dribble against Gary Harris. Payne whiffed on the block attempt, and the man Payne was guarding, Amir Williams', came free for a put-back dunk with 19 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Ohio State scored the first points of the extra period, taking its first lead since it was ahead 19-17, but gave up some pivotal 3-pointers.

Michigan State redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski, playing crunch-time minutes for the first time in his career, made his third 3-pointer to break a tie with 2:40 left in overtime. Moments later, Payne hit a 3-pointer in transition from Harris on Spartans' next possession.

Appling made two free throws with 14.4 seconds left to give Michigan State a three-point lead and Ohio State's Marc Loving missed an off-balance 3-pointer with 3 seconds left that could have tied it. Appling made one of two free throws with one second to go.

The Buckeyes had a season-high 21 turnovers, leading to them not having a double-digit scorer until there was fewer than 4 minutes left in regulation. Sam Thompson finished with 18 points, including six straight late in regulation, and Loving scored 10 points.

"I'm proud we came back, but we weren't as sharp as we needed to be in this caliber of a game," Matta said. "You can't come on the road and have 21 turnovers."

Payne didn't start because of a right foot sprain, but was healthy enough to play 32 minutes and score 18 points.

Payne told coaches two hours before tip-off, in tears, that he wouldn't be able to play. But he dressed for the game and checked himself in, seven minutes into the game.

"That was all Adreian's decision," Izzo said.

The sprain was a pain threshold issue, with no worries of additional damage if he played.

"I got to talk to the doctors and figure it out," Payne said of his lingering injury. "I felt it (the injury) every second I was out there."

Harris scored 13 points for the Spartans, the first team to score 70-plus points against Ohio State this season. Travis Trice
, one of the team's top reserves, didn't play because of a severe bout with the flu.

When Ohio State ramped up its full-court and half-court denial pressure, MSU's lack of guards heart mightily. With Trice out, Valentine in foul trouble (fouling out with two minutes to play) and Appling battling cramps, the Spartans had problems in-bounding the ball, cutting and running offense against Ohio State's length and athleticism.

Appling played 43 of 45 minutes despite having cramps in both legs.

"During one time out, I could see the knots in his leg muscles literally tightening up and balling up before my eyes," Izzo said. "If you want to write a story, write about how tough that kid is."

Michigan State, which beat then-No. 1 Kentucky nearly two months ago, has won seven straight games since losing to North Carolina.

The Spartans led 28-21 at halftime and appeared to take control with 13-4 run midway through the second half.

"I saw it wasn't over, but it was hard to get that through to the rest of the team," Payne said. "We can't look at the scoreboard.

"We looked completely out of sync because Keith couldn't go," he said, referring to Appling being slowed by cramps. "I'll probably feel better about this game tomorrow, but not tonight. I wasn't happy."



AUDIO: Izzo's Post-Game Press Conference



Izzo Quotebook

Opening Statement: "I didn't like a couple things. I didn't like how the game was called. I didn't like how we responded in the last seven minutes. The crowd was unbelievable. My two seniors were hurt. (Adreian) Payne wasn't going to play when he came into the building tonight. The doctor said, 'Don't warm up' and he didn't. I told him to see how he felt when the game started and see if the adrenaline starts running. When the game started, he told me he wanted to play. You guys know that I'm always on Payne, but I give him credit.

"The team usually goes how your seniors go. As disappointed as I was in a couple of juniors and sophomores, I was really pleased with my two seniors. We probably played 30 minutes of the greatest basketball we ever played - our break was good, only four turnovers at half, we were shooting good. We were beating them at the things their good at. But they killed us on the boards and there were a couple of guys that just didn't show up for us. To lose a lead like that, it's hard to feel good about. I still think it says something about a team that loses a 17-point lead then comes back to win it. Maybe the crowd deserves the credit. We are beat up; it's the same old story and I'm getting sick of it. (Travis) Trice is sick again. He got sick before the Indiana game. He hasn't even seen in this building in three days. I guess when it's over I'm going to say heroic effort by our seniors, unbelievable effort by our crowd. We showed some character with our young guys like (Kenny) Kaminksi and (Alvin) Ellis (III) who stepped up and did some things when others didn't. I'm just playing (Gary) Harris too many minutes right now, but I kind of had no choice when (Denzel) Valentine got in foul trouble. This was the worst game for Trice to miss."

On how senior guard Keith Appling was being contained in the final minutes of the second half: "Keith just couldn't go. Both his legs were cramped up; they were working on them every minute. He couldn't get open to save his life. You want to write a story? Write it on his character and his heart. Because he sucked it up and so did Payne."

On the importance of Kenny Kaminski's three point shots: "Kenny is a hell of a shooter. When he grows up, he's going to be a great player. I give whoever threw him that pass at the top of the key credit, because when he hit that shot I thought it was a big turning point in the game. Kenny was a stabilizer during that stretch of foolish turnovers. He also did a decent job defensively."

On whether there was an emergence of any vocal leaders in the huddles down the stretch: "Keith was trying. Keith was getting worked on every huddle from halftime on. I can't tell you how much that kid sucked it up tonight. Most of the time cramps bury you and I'm not kidding you, he was hurting. So he wanted to, but it was hard for him to be that guy. I was waiting on someone else to step up, but we didn't get a lot of that."

On the decision to play Adreian Payne: "It was totally up to him. We had his foot x-rayed. His plantar fasciitis caused him to walk on it weird lately, which causes other things like sprains. There are no breaks or any of that stuff it's just pain. So it was totally his call. I talked to him before the game and he was jogging around a little bit and he was in tears and told me he couldn't go. I said fine, just come out here and see how it goes. I think I'm going to hurt the other ankle tomorrow to be honest, because he was pretty active with all the dunks and what not."

On whether he can grasp where his team is at today: "No. I have no idea. I know this - we must be pretty good because we are beat up. It's not one player. It sounds like an excuse, but we are so beat up. We had a decent week, but then Trice got sick and Payne's not 100 percent. Payne probably learned something about himself tonight though. I probably should be happier than I am I guess considering the circumstances."

On his comments made to ESPN about some of his players playing like "little boys" and the effort of his team: "Everybody knows they're the best defensive team in the country. Everybody knows those guards are leading the country in steals. They get after you. You just have to man up. I don't know what else I can say. I don't know what's going to happen next game, but we'll be a little more ready. That's a promise. I still don't want to overreact though knowing what Appling, Payne and Harris were going through. I'm not going to make excuses though. I don't like the way we played and I don't like how we handled the last eight minutes of the game at all. I have to take some responsibility, because we looked completely out of sync out there. We really couldn't get into anything because Keith couldn't go and I couldn't take him out of the game because I don't have another point guard. We survived though and great teams have to do that sometimes."


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