Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 12/25/12
All anyone could say who’s closely watched the Michigan State Spartans’ basketball team perform for the past four years is “it’s about time!” On Saturday against the Texas Longhorns, big man Derrick Nix finally showed up in a big way, dominating a game from start to finish like he’s long been capable of doing. In Spartan Jump Shots, I had called on him to finally make an impact, and with 25 points, 11 boards and four steals mixed around numerous other important plays, Nix did just that and more, leading the Spartans to a big win over the Longhorns and boosting his team into Big Ten play. This was a big moment in Nix’s development. No longer is he the fat kid not committed to losing weight, because he’s done that. No longer is he the player not serious enough about his team to make amends for mistakes. We’ve seen flashes from Nix before, but never much consistency. He’d lose weight but put it back on, and play some games passionately while disappearing for others. He endeared himself to teammates by appearing at a rally to encourage Tom Izzo to remain the Spartans’ coach in 2010, but also let them down last summer after a foolish mistake with marijuana. Due to all of this happening throughout much of his career, Nix has become one of the biggest anomalies in Michigan State basketball history. Saturday afternoon, that changed. I’ve long contended that the easiest way to see if a player is engaged and determined is to watch his eyes. Nix had passion and fire in his eyes against Texas, and took over the game with a fierce approach at all times during the game. Draymond Green flipped that same switch during his junior year, and became a force in the Big Ten during his senior season. Nix, though the timing is much different, could be taking the same step. The buzzword of the past 72 hours? Finally. Michigan State badly needs a statistical leader other than Keith Appling on the floor, and they badly need that player to be a senior. Being that Nix is the only person fitting that description, it was refreshing to see him assert his game. Best yet is the boost the team seemed to receive from watching Nix perform. Suddenly, Aderian Payne looked more confident in the paint, and the offense was facilitated crisper low to high. Some much-needed passion was injected as well, especially when Michigan State went on runs during the game. Everyone just looked more fired up at all times. Entering a tough Big Ten slate which opens in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve, the Spartans needed their leader to start playing like one in a hurry. Nix did all of that and more to close last week, perhaps finally taking the last step towards rounding out and galvanizing his team. Player Of The Week: Derrick Nix, Michigan State. It’s hard to not go with Nix this time around, especially after watching the impact he made against Texas. Think of how tough Michigan State will be to beat if they are able to get this same kind of consistently rugged performance from Nix and his entire team. Grabbing 25 and 11 had to feel good for the big man, and he finally had his moment in the sun. Now, consistency is the key moving forward into 2013. Game Of The Week: Michigan at Northwestern. The Michigan Wolverines should firmly have their attention geared towards the Wildcats this week, as they will prove to be a bit of a challenge despite their current situation. In the past, games in Evanston have proven difficult for Michigan as well as other ranked teams no matter how Northwestern is playing, and the Wolverines must avoid getting lulled to sleep by a quiet atmosphere. Michigan State and Minnesota will be a fantastic match up and probably the better game, but this contest will let fans know if the highly ranked Wolverines are a serious contender in the Big Ten this season. If they are, they cannot lose focus in the first game against a team they should beat by double digits. If they’re not, they’ll fall apart right off the bat and wilt under pressure. From that standpoint, it’s the best match up to watch. Stat Of The Week: 5, Michigan State’s current winning streak at Williams Arena in Minnesota, a strange feat in the rough and rowdy Big Ten, where road winning streaks are usually few and far between. The run has lasted since the Spartans’ last loss during the 2005-06 season. In the past several years, Michigan State has won in every single way against the Golden Gophers in “The Barn.” They’ve won ugly games, close games and even blowout games. This season, 11th ranked Minnesota will put this particular run to the test with their underrated squad. The Spartans’ best effort of the year will be needed to come out with win number six. Standings: #2 Michigan 12-0 (0-0 Big Ten) #19 Michigan State 11-2 (0-0 Big Ten)
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Adrian Beltre completes cycle, gets mad when assaulted

Gruden had to convince Dan Snyder to bench RG3

Jim Mora turns P. Diddy fight into recruiting pitch for UCLA

Illinois releases results of women's basketball probe

Richie Incognito named starter by Rex Ryan

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

DeMarco Murray isn't thrilled Eagles limited reps in practice

Brandon Weeden: 'God forbid I am forced to play' for Dallas

Ben Roethlisberger: Markus Wheaton is ready to break out

Hernandez tipster allegedly had sexual relationship with him

Rookie WR Tyler Lockett has Pete Carroll, Seahawks gushing

Packers TE returns to practice in wake of family tragedy

WATCH: Giants players fight during training camp

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger Woods on Twitter

Report: Rousey to star in film based on her autobiography

Porn star offers to cook meal for any sports champion

Why everyone is wrong about Cowboys Tony Romo, Part 1

Oregon was only team drug tested during CFB Playoff?

Five 2nd year NBA players ready to take the next step

John Daly wants to be US Ryder Cup captain

Rodgers appears in another Olivia Munn workout video

Matt Hasselbeck is still getting random drug tests

Five teams that won at the MLB trade deadline

What should be expected from Aaron Rodgers in 2015?

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Adrian Beltre gets mad when assaulted after HR

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker