EAST LANSING - Michigan State senior Draymond Green guaranteed a victory over Michigan shortly after he and his teammates came up short in a one-point loss on the road in Ann Arbor in January.
In the rematch between the two in-state rivals, the Michigan State captain did everything necessary to back up his words. Green led his team in scoring with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting against the Wolverines. Green also pulled down 16 rebounds in the 64-54 victory over Michigan.
Green's inspired performance against Michigan came just days after he suffered a knee injury at Illinois which appeared to put the Spartan senior's season in jeopardy.
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"It was pretty tough on his part," said junior Derrick Nix. "He came out and gave us all that he had, and what he had was why we won."
Green's roommate Brandon Wood expected the senior captain to shine against the in-state rival.
"He has been doing that pretty much his whole career and this season," said Wood. " It is something we expect from him. Obviously, he had a huge game and took us over that hump. He hit some big shots. He hit some tough shots. His biggest part on this team is being a leader ... and doing the small things and being a second coach out there. He is playing his role and he is doing a very good job of it."
Green downplayed the injury to his knee afterward. The Spartan captain did, however, spend a good chunk of time receiving treatment for the knee sprain before answering questions from reporters gathered around his locker.
"It felt phenomenal," said Green when asked about his knee. "It felt like nothing ever happened. I was just out there playing, it felt great."
If Green's knee was bothering him during the course of the game, his teammates didn't notice.
"I think he was 100 percent ," Wood said. "We didn't dwell his little injury. We knew it was a big game. He knew that he would have to step u and we knew that he would step up especially in a game against Michigan, our rival. He didn't want to go out with a loss and the adrenaline just carried him."
'That's a pretty cool stat'
Green matched Michigan's entire team with his 16-rebound effort. It was the second highest rebound total of the season for the Spartan senior who grabbed 18 boards in the season opener against North Carolina.
"That is pretty cool," Green said. "That's a pretty cool stat."
Before learning that his 16 rebounds had matched the number totaled by the Wolverines, Green was disappointed that he gathered more rebounds.
"I am still trying to get that 20 rebound game, so I am kind of disappointed," said Green. "I want to be ranked up there with the great rebounders and in order to do that I feel like I have to have that 20 rebound game. I am still struggling to do that, I feel like I have to get that."
With his 16 rebounds against Michigan, Green inched closer to 1,000 career rebounds. The Spartan captain now has 944 career rebounds. He ranks fourth all-time in rebounds at Michigan State behind Greg Kelser (first, 1,092), Johnny Green (second, 1,036), and Antonio Smith (third, 1,016).
"It is an effort thing," answered Green when asked why he values rebounds above other stats. "Scoring some nights it may go, some nights it may not. For the most part rebounding is effort. You don't have to be the greatest jumper. It is about angles and position and it is the effort of who wants the ball. I want to be that guy who wants to get the ball."
'Twitter can get you sometimes'
Much was made this week about comment made on Twitter by second-year Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan.
Jordan tweeted the following earlier this week:
In the honor of battle, you always want your opponent at full strength. The stronger the adversary, the more Valiant the Victory must be.
Jordan's tweet could be interpreted in a number of different ways. Michigan State's interpretation of the second-year assistant's tweet was printed out and hung in each of the Spartan lockers with the exception of Green.
Below is the Spartan interpretation.
Coach Jordan is referring to your teammates' health. What Coach Jordan is saying is that he wants Day Day to be healthy in order to make MICHIGAN's victory on Sunday that much sweeter
Green and his teammates were well aware of Jordan's tweet. But the motivation it provided was miniscule in comparison with having lost the three previous meetings with the Wolverines.
"It wasn't any extra motivation," Green said. "We didn't need any extra motivation. It was kind of ironic. Be careful what you wish for, that is what my mom always told me.
"Twitter can get you sometimes"