Green and gang show something, take down Gonzaga

The Draymond Green show was just as it should have been and the rest of the Spartans jumped on board.

His play, but more importantly, his leadership was outstanding and around him, we started to see some pieces come together.

In a game in which key players Branden Dawson, Keith Appling, Brandon Wood and Travis Trice struggled for the majority of the night — especially to score — just about everyone else chipped in and showed what they are capable of.

Adreian Payne brought flashes of brilliance, scoring nine points while altering the game with his athleticism, hustle and defensive effort. At one point, he emphatically blocked a shot on one end, ran the court with Wood, took the pass and dropped it in for an easy layup.

Derrick Nix hit all four of his field goal attempts and displayed the ability to take over in the post with good footwork and nifty post moves. And between the combined defensive work of Nix and Payne, Gonzaga star center Robert Sacre was held to only eight points from the field.

Even Alex Gauna guarded relatively well most of the time, showing some progress despite some slow recoveries to his man and giving up position to Sacre — resulting in Izzo ripping him a new one.

Brandan Kearney hustled, and hustled, and showed more of the natural ability that Izzo drools over and Spartan fans should be giddy to see consistently.

The statline shows the result of these efforts to the tune of 10 steals, 22 forced turnovers and, as a tribute to teamwork, 18 assists.

Which brings it all back to Green. The leader who let this team have it after a hardly acceptable effort against Central Connecticut State on Wednesday did all the wall-penetrating talking with his play this time around.

He was the all-everything, hard-working, team-motivating player that he has shown he can be before. It resulted a career-high 34 points and a glorious road win at a venue that visiting teams rarely depart from with a victory.

He pick-and-popped his way to four 3-pointers on five attempts. He was clutch, hitting a three with 3:08 to go to respond to the final push from the Bulldogs. He pick-and-popped his way to four 3-pointers on five attempts. And he was incredibly efficient, taking only 13 shots — tied for his second-lowest total this season.

And after it all, the star of the night had anyone but himself on his mind as he tweeted this:

“This was a great environment with great fans and a great team…. Proud of my Youngin’s they stepped up tonight.”

They stepped up alright, right around Green and his play and example.

Notes/Observations

— Izzo showed again that this group has a lot to learn, pulling Trice after a quick shot in transition midway through the second half. He did the same to Gauna after some poor defense. And most notably, Dawson did not saw only four minutes in the second half after early struggles and a clear lack of defensive effort.

— Izzo also was visibly frustrated with a lack of transition defense, which helped Gonzaga guard David Stockton drop 19 points in 22 minutes.

— Despite their struggles shooting, Trice, Appling and Wood combined for 13 assists — led by Appling’s seven.

— Appling looked frustrated at times and supposedly, Stockton was a major trash talker — jabbing at him for being an All-American in high school and not playing like it.

— Payne, Nix and Green combined to go 19-of-23 from the field and totaled 51 points.

— The rotation Izzo has talked about so much seems to have taken a little more shape, in the form Russell Byrd being dropped from the equation — for now, at least. Kearney had 11 minutes and showed a good understanding of the offense, as well as alertness on both ends of the court. Gauna, while playing only three minutes, was facing some difficult post matchups and did an alright job. Byrd saw only two minutes, but was playing more inside the arc than outside.

— Trice’s development at the point is essential to success. He is the only true point on the team, and his court presence brings a good burst of energy to the team.

Twitter Action

@Money23Green I mean we try to make it look as Eazy as possible. Leggggoooo final four I’m calling it now” — Jerel Worthy

“Huge game for @Money23Green as the @MSU_Basketball is only 7th team to go into Gonzaga & come away with a Dub! #SpartanDawgs” — Drew Stanton

“Really good win for Michigan State at Gonzaga. Most play Zags in Spokane Arena, but Izzo took true road game. Green was spectacular with 34.” — Jay Bilas

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Posted on December 11, 2011, in Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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