BRESLIN CENTER (10:22 p.m.) — If Michigan State thought it would roll through this week on the way to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, this might have been a decent lesson.
MSU survived, 74-70, but it took late-game grit, surviving foul trouble and injuries, and 40 minutes from point guard Keith Appling to get it done.
Not one anyone expected from a Nov. 20 hoops matchup with Boise State.
The bigger news is the health of Gary Harris, the Spartans’ stud freshman guard, who left in the first minute with what appears to be a shoulder injury. He returned the bench, but not the game. Stay tuned for updates.
Branden Dawson (first half) and Appling (second) came up huge in critical stretches in a game that took a mid-Big Ten season vibe.
Appling’s hanging floater while being fouled with 15 seconds left all but sealed the game, putting MSU ahead 73-68 after the free throw.
He made one of two free throws after a Boise score to clinch it.
Appling finished with 22 points, seven assists, four turnovers and three steals.
Not bad to be tested this way, as long as it doesn’t with news that Harris’ injury is serious.
BRESLIN CENTER, BASELINE (9:05 p.m.) — If Tom Izzo was hoping for help figuring out his rotation, he’s got it.
Problem is, his hand is being forced by injuries, the latest suffered by promising freshman guard Gary Harris.
Harris appeared to injure his left shoulder in the opening minutes tonight. The shoulder appeared to be hanging as he went to the bench. After a few minutes, Harris left the court with MSU’s team doctor, presumably for an examination. When Harris returned to the bench, he was wearing a warmup top and sat on the other side of Travis Trice, who’s out with a concussion.
Minus Harris and Trice, Brandan Kearney, Denzel Valentine and Russell Byrd are seeing a lot of minutes.
An injury to Harris would be devastating long-term. Playing only a scoreless minute tonight also kills his scoring average.
Foul trouble has further altered the rotation, with Valentine, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne saddled with two apiece.
MSU looked in trouble for a minute, but a 16-2 run led by Branden Dawson turned this around.
Keith Appling leads the way with 11 points.
More here after the game.
BRESLIN CENTER (7:18 p.m.) — This game is one where you feel for the public address announcer.
Igor Hadziomerovic, for three! Vukasin Vujovic with the put-back!
Boise State’s roster has its share of foreigners, the best of whom is probably 6-foot-6 Australian Anthony Drmic.
Drmic scored 25 points against Oakland and is a terrific shooter and finisher on the drive.
It’ll be interesting to see how he does matched up on MSU’s Branden Dawson, a far more imposing athlete.
The Las Vegas spread is 16 points for this one. That’s probably about right. This is a truer test for MSU than Sunday, but still a physical mismatch.
The game is on Big Ten Network, tipoff at 8 p.m.
I’ll be back with halftime analysis.