NEW YORK -- A little over ten minutes were left on the clock, and MSU was staring at a four-point deficit.
Ten minutes until Adreian Payne’s career ended as a Spartan. Or so it could have been.
With his team down four and begging for a sign of momentum, the senior forward delivered in the form of a powering dunk followed with a thunderous yell. The bench went crazy, and MSU followed suit by going on a 7-0 run to take a 43-40 lead.
“If you look over that game, he had multiple plays that you would say changed the game,” junior guard Travis Trice said.
And he did, leading to a 61-59 MSU win over Virginia on Friday.
With the game tied at 51 with 1:29 on the clock, Payne nailed a 3-pointer. With the Spartans lead hanging on a thread of 56-54, Payne hit two free throws to take a four point lead with 33 seconds left.
“We just were hungry,” Payne said. “We knew that it was going to be a dogfight, and we knew that around that time that they went on their run, it was winning time.”
At the postgame press conference, Payne and Branden Dawson used the same word to describe the game — a dogfight.
With Payne getting double-teamed and MSU's guards getting shut out of the lanes throughout the night, it was a physical game. So physical, in fact, that senior guard Keith Appling said Virginia might be "the most physical team I’ve ever played since I’ve been here.”
“Their guards were as just as strong as their bigs, and their bigs could move just as well as their guards," Appling said.
Sophomore guard Gary Harris was held to one point in the second half, and Appling was kept to a lowly two points on 1-of-3 shooting. Other than Payne and Dawson, who combined for 40 points, no Spartan scored more than six points.
Trice on a roll
It wasn't the most impressive stat line of the night, but the way Trice scored his five points was crucial for the green and white.
His first three points came with a little more than nine minutes in the game, when he fired off and drained a 3-pointer to take a 43-40 lead. That's two games in a row where Trice has hit a 3-pointer to give MSU a lead in a tense second half.
He also knocked down two free throws to give the Spartans a four-point lead and ice the game with nine seconds left.
When asked if he was playing with the most confidence he's ever had, Trice gave a simple three-word answer.
“Definitely, definitely, definitely," Trice said.