Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/9/12
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY — Led by Shabazz Napier’s 25 points, the UConn Huskies “upset” the #14 Michigan State Spartans 66-62 in the Armed Forces Classic. UConn, now coached by former Huskie Kevin Ollie, got off to a great start as they made 11 of their first 13 shots. The Spartans got behind 28-13 after Napier converted on a lay-up with 9:09 left in the first half. UConn seemed in control, and it looked as if this game was going to get out of hand. However, after a Travis Trice three-point shot with 6:46 left in the half, it was clear that the MSU players were shaking off the nerves that seemed to haunt them for the first 10 minutes of the first half. After the made jumper by Trice, which cut UConn’s lead to 13, the Spartans went on a 13-6 run to end the half. The Spartans came out in the second half where they left off in the first, as they scored six points within the first two minutes to cut the lead to three. From their, the Spartans and Huskies continued to trade baskets back and forth for the rest of the half, and seven points from Napier in the final six minutes was enough to put the game away for UConn. Members of the Air Force watch the opening minutes of the Armed Forces Classic. If the Spartans wouldn’t have came out to such a slow start, which is understandable from a young team in their first game of the season, it’s possible that they could’ve won this game comfortably. However, the Huskies defensive pressure and the Spartans unnecessary turnovers early caused them to fall too far behind to start the game. Aside from the tremendous game from Napier, UConn got a solid effort from sophomore DeAndre Daniels who had 12 points, eight boards, and three blocks. The Spartans, who are one of the deeper teams in the country, got solid production from several players. Junior Keith Appling led the Spartans in scoring with 17 points, and sophomore Branden Dawson, in his first game back since tearing his ACL in March, proved to be the Spartans best player as he had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals. Highly touted freshman Gary Harris looked impressive in his first game wearing the green and white as he had 11 points. The duo of Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix didn’t look as great as many Spartan faithful would have hoped. In 15 minutes, Payne had six points and only two rebounds. Nix posted six points and 11 rebounds, but had some costly unforced turnovers. I know it’s only the first game, and it was a HUGE first game at that, but I think Tom Izzo may have to scratch the idea that Nix and Payne should start together. MSU looked at their best when Travis Trice was at points guard, with Appling and Harris, and Dawson with either Nix or Payne in the front-court. Michigan State must utilize their athleticism going forward because it’s clear that they are at their best in transition. Going small is something that could really bother teams due to the fact that Dawson, who is naturally a small forward, will be quicker than most power forwards, yet, still be able to bang with them in the paint. If playing the Huskies in Germany wasn’t enough for the Spartans, they will travel to Atlanta in four days to take on No. 7 Kansas in ESPN’s “College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.”

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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