Keith Appling is one of those players who can be trusted in big moments.
The Michigan State star came through with a clutch layup in a win over Kansas earlier this season, and against Iowa on the road Thursday night, he stepped up and nailed for crunch-time free throws in a 62-59 road win.
“I said, ‘Keith, it’s going to be like Kansas. I’m putting it in your hands. You’ve got to make some decisions,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a post-game press conference.
There was nothing pretty or flashy about the Spartans’ win over the Hawkeyes, but no one cares about style points in the Big Ten, especially on the road.
And anytime a team can steal a win on the road, it’s huge regardless of the opponent.
“There’s a lot of things we need to get better at. But that was a big win on the road, especially the way we played,” Izzo said in a post-game press conference.
No one is talking about Michigan State has a potential Big Ten champion, but anyone who knows college basketball understands that you can never sleep on the Spartans.
Even if they don’t win a championship, they will be a tough out for anyone come March as long as they continue to go into each game ready to roll.
The Spartans’ win over Iowa was just one example of what Michigan State can expect on a nightly basis in the Big Ten.
“It’s going to be like that every night, pretty much,” Appling said in a post-game press conference. “We were able to reach down, fight through adversity and come out with a win.”
And like I said before winning is what matters in the conference. Style points are optional.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.