And So It Begins
With huge game from Payne, MSU starts tourney off right
SPOKANE, Wash. — It was a night that Adreian Payne could only dream of.
He scored a career-high 41 points en route to a 93-78 win against No. 13 seed Delaware in the NCAA Tournament.
The 41 points also set a new record for most points by a Spartan in the NCAA Tournament, passing Greg Kelser’s mark of 34 against Notre Dame in 1979.
The last 40-point game by an MSU player was in 1995, when Shawn Respert scored 40 points against Indiana.
“I didn’t really feel like I was going to have a game like this,” Payne said. “I just came out just trying to play and win. My teammates did a great job at getting me the ball so I can get baskets in easy ways.”
Travis Trice also nearly set a career-high, scoring 19 points of his own.
Delaware stuck with MSU early, but the Spartans went on a 12-0 run to push their lead to 15 points. All 12 points on the run were scored by Payne.
Once Payne sat down, Delaware went on an 11-0 run of their own to cut the lead to single digits.
Payne got the Spartans back on track when he made his fourth three-pointer of the game with just under two minutes left in the first half.
“I don’t think I take him for granted,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “Sometimes he’s got to realize he’s really good player if he just plays inside out, let’s the game come to him, which I thought he did tonight.”
The second half started with a 6-0 run by Delaware that saw Valentine pick up his third foul and head to the bench.
Foul trouble continued to haunt the Spartans as Gary Harris picked up his third foul with more than 14 minutes left.
Trice was the one to inject some life back into MSU when he split the defense and made an acrobatic layup before getting fouled and making the bonus.
He continued his strong play play by leading MSU on a 7-0 run to push the lead once again, and had 19 of the Spartans' total 25 bench points.
MSU dominated the Fightin' Blue Hens on the boards, out rebounding them 42-24 — led by who else but Payne with eight rebounds.
The Hens wouldn’t go away, and were helped by a combined 27 fouls on MSU.
Even Delaware head coach Monte Ross had some high praise for Payne.
“He was probably the best big man that I’ve faced probably in 21 years of college basketball,” Ross said. “I haven’t faced a guy like that, and because he has a myriad of skills where he can step away and make threes, he’s a load down there on the block.”
The Spartans will face off against the 12th-seeded Harvard Crimson, led by former Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker on Saturday.
Last April, Payne almost left MSU early for the NBA, but decided against it.
Now, that choice is paying off.
“He made the right decision to stay,” Izzo said. “He is a much better player. He’s a much more cerebral player, he a much stronger player. He’s starting to marry the inside and outside. If he does that on a consistent basis, I see him as one of the best four men in the the whole country.”