Michigan State’s Keith Appling appears poised to make this his breakout season.
The 15th-ranked Spartans will see what their fast-rising junior can do next as they host Louisiana-Lafayette in the final game of the Spartan Showcase on Sunday.
Appling, who made a clutch three-point play in the final minute of a 74-70 win over Boise State on Nov. 20, followed up with a much-needed gutsy performance on Friday.
After limping off the court with a sprained right ankle late in the first half, the point guard shook it off to finish with 20 points and lead Michigan State (4-1) past Oakland 70-52.
“At first, I got scared,” Appling said. “That didn’t seem like an average ankle roll. After I calmed down and took a couple deep breaths, I was able to walk on it.”
Since the short-handed Spartans can’t afford to lose their top playmaker, Appling will continue to log heavy minutes as they look to sweep the Spartan Showcase on Sunday.
Appling has played 78 minutes out of necessity the past two games with guards Gary Harris (shoulder) and Travis Trice (concussion) both out of action.
“There’s some other great guards in this league,” coach Tom Izzo said. “Some do a lot on the offensive end, a couple are great defenders, he’s doing both and he’s doing it with no backup.”