Virginia dared Branden Dawson to carry MSU offensively – and he did

NEW YORK — Branden Dawson was the difference in Michigan State’s win over Virginia. Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said made that much clear, as did the stat sheet.

Dawson would have been the difference either way. Virginia made that decision. If MSU was going to win Friday night, it would be on Dawson’s broad shoulders.

Virginia pulled center Mike Tobey off of Adreian Payne after Payne scored seven of MSU’s first 10 points. Akil Mitchell was a better option, similar to Harvard’s athletic power forwards. Payne abuses less-athletic big guys. He struggles against smaller, quicker defenders.

So it was up to Dawson to beat Tobey and others, since he’d been freed from Mitchell.

He did, repeatedly attacking and finishing or drawing fouls. Twenty-four points, 10 rebounds, 6 of 8 free throws, one steal, one assist, zero turnovers.

“Akil’s a terrific defender for us,” Bennett said. “And early Dawson got by him and drew some fouls. Akil was a little tight on him, when I saw him do that to Akil a couple times, it made me nervous.  Then the way Payne started the game, we got to switch the matchups. And then that was a hard matchup for our big guy, Mike Tobey. (Dawson is) a matchup problem because he’s so explosive, so athletic. And then he just, he doesn’t need a lot of shots. I know he got 16 shots, but he’s always around the ball and he plays much bigger than his height.”

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12 Responses to Virginia dared Branden Dawson to carry MSU offensively – and he did

  1. avatar Jmac says:

    Survive and advance is the priority, but look out if this team “flips the switch” and starts firing on all cylinders. So far it’s Dawson who has played to and beyond expectations.

  2. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    i took my blood pressure during the game. it was 146 over 95. i have serious problems. i’m seriously considering not watching anymore games.

    • avatar GoGreen says:

      LOL! Same, here. I was having honest-to-goodness panic attacks and pain in my left shoulder and arm. Fortunately, I don’t have any other serious illnesses, because this kind of stuff can send people to the hospital.

  3. avatar Westside Spartan says:

    That’s not bad Jersey John. Take an aspirin before the game; you’ll be fine.
    I think Izzo has more to worry about than you do. I swear he’s going to stroke out on the sideline one day.
    Dawson was an animal, Payne was great as usual; but could someone send out an APB for Gary Harris?

    • avatar Blaykezor says:

      Gary Harris too? The milk carton in my refrigerator has a picture of somebody named “Keith Appleing??”

  4. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    This quote from Payne is why we punch our ticket to the Final Four tomorrow,
    these guys finally have that refuse to lose mentality that Mateen had in the palace against Syracuse in 2000. Go Green

    We knew that around that time that they went on their run, it was winning time,” Payne said. “And that’s what you heard from the huddle. That’s what you heard from everybody. We just tried to continue to stay together and fight from there.”

  5. avatar Phillip Winston says:

    It is called the Appling Affect. Dick Vitale and the ESPN analysts stated Trice needs to start the next game. There were 9 change of possession related to Appling in this game. Then of course missing the front of 1 & 1, and fouling on the next possession to stop the clock with 9 seconds. Trice nailed his free throws. When does loyalty become a liability?

  6. avatar slouchy bud responds to Hoke says:

    Hoke, let’s make a deal you root for Michigan tomorrow and sing hail to the victors and I will root for Sparty to get lucky in the warm up game

  7. avatar GoGreen says:

    Dawson may have carried the team, but the game-changer was Trice’s three about – what? – halfway into the second half? That’s the score that allowed them to win this game, outright. Without it, we’d have either lost very narrowly in regulation, or stretched it to OT. Trice’s three was the turn in momentum, and then Payne put just enough space between the two at the end to outlast.

    Not a pretty game, but we’re at a point in the tournament where it doesn’t matter how we when rather that we win. Everything feels easier here on out.

  8. avatar NJ Rob says:

    Great game for Spartans. Time to get it done tomorrow.


  9. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    I have a quiet confidence about todays game , they have no answer for Dawson and AP in the post, it will be a game of attrition where we pull away in the last 8 minutes

    MSU 78
    UCant 71

    Go Green

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