LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wanted more from Keith Appling and he got it.
Appling scored eight of his 11 points in the second half to help the Spartans pull away from Eastern Michigan in a 72-40 win Sunday.
Izzo said he told Appling at halftime that he wanted him to push the ball more and was pleased with how the sophomore guard responded.
“I think he took a big step today, especially in the second half,” Izzo said. “I was going to threaten his life and his wife, but he’s not married.
“I think he might be my fastest 40-yard dash guy that I’ve ever coached as far as jet speed, but sometimes he just doesn’t do it.”
Appling, who had five assists, understood why Izzo delivered the stern message.
“If I push the ball, good things happen for me and my teammates,” he said.
The Spartans (4-2) have won four straight against lackluster opponents after opening with losses to No. 1 North Carolina on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and against No. 6 Duke in New York.
Michigan State plays its next game at home on Wednesday against No. 22 Florida State, which lost to Harvard — led by former Michigan coach Tommy Amaker — on Friday and No. 4 Connecticut by two points in overtime on Saturday.
“We need a big win and this gives us an opportunity to get one,” said Spartans forward Draymond Green, who scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles (4-2) had won three in a row.
Michigan State gave up the first basket in its first game as a visitor this season, then scored 10 straight to take control for good. The Spartans led 25-13 at halftime, opened the second half with a run and coasted to a lopsided victory.
The Spartans didn’t have a double-digit scorer against the Eagles until Andreian Payne scored on a baseline hook with about 14 minutes left. Brandon Wood scored their first five points of the game and finished with nine.
Eastern Michigan’s J.R. Sims scored 14 points for an offensively-challenged team that made fewer than 30 percent of its shots. None of Sims’ teammates had more than six points.
The Eagles’ next game is Tuesday at No. 5 Syracuse. Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy, a former Orange assistant, said the Spartans didn’t help his team get ready for its next test.
“I don’t think it does much for us, Syracuse is a totally different team,” Murphy said. “They’re much more talented, much more athletic, much more aggressive.”
Murphy, a native of Detroit, was hired in April after seven years working for Jim Boeheim in Syracuse to replace Charles Ramsey, who was fired with a 68-118 record over six seasons.
Murphy was an assistant at Syracuse with Bernie Fine, who was fired on Sunday night in the wake of an investigation of child molestation allegations against him. Fine, who had been on administrative leave, has called the allegations false and Boeheim, who did not comment Sunday, had previously expressed confidence Fine would be vindicated.
“I don’t have any thoughts on that at all,” Murphy said before Fine was fired Sunday night. “I didn’t know about that until it hit the news.”
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