With 24 seconds left in Tuesday night’s game against Boise State and clinging to a two-point lead, MSU basketball head coach Tom Izzo called timeout.
During the break, Izzo turned to Keith Appling, who had spent the previous 39 minutes and 26 seconds running up and down the Breslin Center floor.
“It’s time big boy, you wanted it,” Izzo recalled telling the junior guard. “You wanted the stage, you got it. So bring it home.”
Out of the timeout, Appling took the ball and dribbled to his left before he drove the lane, left the ground and, switching hands in midair, flipped the ball through the hoop while drawing a foul. The entire sequence took less than 10 seconds, but after Appling drained the and-one, the No. 15 Spartans (3-1 overall) had all but put the game away, going on to win 74-70 and drop the Broncos.
Appling finished with a team-high 22 points and seven assists, while also grabbing five boards. But more impressive than that, was the 6-foot-1 guard played all 40 minutes of the game without subbing out once.
“I actually wasn’t even tired,” Appling said. “I didn’t realize I played 40 minutes … when I saw that on the stat sheet, I really (hadn’t) noticed, but I felt pretty good out there.”
The Spartans found themselves in a tough situation due to crucial injuries depleting the team’s depth. Having already lost sophomore guard Travis Trice to a concussion, freshman guard Gary Harris left Tuesday’s game less than a minute in with a shoulder injury. Izzo said afterwards he wasn’t sure what the injury was, but expected Harris to miss extended time pending results of an MRI scheduled for Wednesday morning.
However, Appling had some help from freshman guard Denzel Valentine, who tossed in 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting in his first start for the Spartans. Sophomore forward Branden Dawson also added 10 points, including a breakaway windmill slam dunk in the first half which energized the sellout Breslin crowd.
MSU overcome some early jitters, at one point trailing the Broncos 22-13 before riding a 16-2 run to take a six-point lead.
“We can’t dig ourselves big holes like that,” Dawson said. “(We can’t do it) against Kansas, against Boise State … we just have to ride it together and work hard.”
The Spartans also had to weather the explosive production of Boise State’s Derrick Marks in the second half, who scored 24 points — 19 in the last 20 minutes — before he fouled out with just over two and a half minutes to go, a swing that Boise State head coach Leon Rice said may have changed the outcome of the game.
“(Marks) is such a good player that we need to have him on the floor for those last couple minutes,” he said.
Izzo now moves to 47-0 all time in November home games in his 21 years at MSU. The Spartans look to go for win No. 48 Friday night, when the Spartans host Oakland at 8:15 p.m.