Spartans demolish Iowa, cruise to semifinals
The Spartans quickly put to rest any major doubts about how the team would perform without Branden Dawson — and did so in resounding fashion as they downed Iowa with relative ease 92-75.
They obliterated the previous Michigan State record for points in a Big Ten Tournament game (76 against Illinois in 2000) and shot 8 of 18 from 3-point range.
Even more impressive was the Spartans 58 percent shooting, led by 7 of 8 from Adreian Payne.
Payne, who flashed a variety of post moves effectively, had a career-high 16 points. He also added seven rebounds.
“We know the potential that Adreian has and the things that he can do,” Draymond Green said. “It was just a matter of him going hard every second that he’s on the floor. And today he did that and he came up with some huge rebounds for us, some huge buckets for us. But I think the one thing I was impressed with early is how selfish he was.”
Yes, selfishness can be a good thing. Payne running down the court with his hand up calling for the ball is a good thing. When he gets the ball and then goes to work, instead of taking one dribble and looking to pass, is a good thing.
Payne playing like that in the post is a very good thing. The Spartans need a player, or two, to step up like that in each game they play in the rest of the season without Branden Dawson.
On Friday, it was Payne, with a little bit of Brandon Wood and even some Russell Byrd.
Byrd, who had a career-high eight points, saw extended time as Tom Izzo had the luxury of resting his starters for the Spartans next game against Wisconsin (1:40 p.m. Saturday).
Green led the Spartans with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in just 24 minutes — because of early foul trouble, and the Spartans lead growing early. He became the fourth player to have a 20-10-5 game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Travis Trice came back strong when some questioned if he would play. Trice had nine points, hitting three 3-pointers.
All in all, the Spartans showed the fans, and themselves, what they are capable of even after the loss of Dawson. Big things still could be to come.