Spartans play a game of whack the Wolverines
Michigan State fans realized their biggest fear at Illinois.
Knowing the in-state rivalry game with Michigan was on the horizon, the scene of Draymond Green hobbling off the court sent shockwaves through Spartan Nation, more than the ugly loss did.
Green, whose struggles against Michigan have been well-documented, relieved fears and affirmed that he would play. He even went as far as to say it would take “death” for him not to be on the court.
On Sunday, Green came out very much alive — and left in a most jovial of manners. The senior captain recorded ANOTHER double-double, with 14 points and 16 rebounds — matching Michigan’s total for the game.
MSU showed up in true Tom Izzo-coached form with hard-nosed rebounding and defense — and the Izzone made its presence known in a very loud manner.
Green led the charge and led it hard for the Spartans, who outmuscled and outmanned the Wolverines, on their way to a 52.2 percentage from the field and a 39-16 rebounding advantage.
In what likely was the final time Green will face the Wolverines (barring a Big Ten Tournament matchup), he scored in double-digits for the second time in his career. He hit 7-of-11 from the field, two of the misses went in-and-out from 3-point range.
The matchup which hurt the Spartans in the first meeting was flipped, as Keith Appling stayed out of foul trouble (mostly). Appling plagued Trey Burke, who had 20 points in Ann Arbor, and held the freshman to 11 points — while scoring 10.
Travis Trice pitched in on the defensive end, helping lock down Burke and forcing him into four turnovers. Branden Dawson continued his growth, also playing phenomenal defense, and scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Brandon Wood, who came off the bench as Austin Thornton started in his place, had nine points, including two fantastic finishes.
The effort went far and wide for the Spartans, but make no mistake — it was all about an inspired performance from Green. After missing a game-winning attempt in Ann Arbor, he left nothing in question in East Lansing.
“Everything is back in place. The world is back in place,” Green said.