Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14
ATLANTA — With 16 seconds left, MSU guard Keith Appling drove past Kansas big man Jeff Withey and finished with a dazzling left handed lay-up to give the No. 21 Michigan State Spartans a 67-64 victory over the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks. Appling finished the game with a game-high 19 points, eight of which came in the final seven minutes of the second half. Freshman Gary Harris put on an offensive clinic for the Spartans as he went 7-of-12 from the field for 18 points, and showed that he can put the ball in the bucket in more ways than one. Harris scored two back-to-back buckets with just over four minutes to play that cut the Kansas lead to 59-58 and jump started an 8-0 run by the Spartans. Kansas guard Elijah Johnson buried two free throws after a Harris foul to end the Spartans 8-0 run and cut the MSU lead to 62-61 with 1:47 left in the game. On the next possession, Appling came off a pick and drilled a three-pointer to give MSU a 65-61 lead with 1:38 left. The junior point guard finished the game shooting 3-of-3 from deep, and those that follow the program closely know how huge that this shooting performance is for him. Appling and Valentine celebrating after Appling’s late three-point shot. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Appling told isportsweb.com that he made 500 three-pointers a day during the summer, and with a three-point shooting percentage of nearly 63 percent in two games, it’s evident that hard work pays off. While MSU sophomore back-up point guard Travis Trice sat out of today’s game with concussion symptoms, many were watching 6-5  freshman guard Denzel Valentine closely. The freshman continued to show that he is the best passer on the team with some eye-popping passes into the post, and he even improved his defense tremendously from the first game. Still, the Spartans are struggling to not turn the ball over, as they’ve had two games of 15 turnovers this season, many of which are unforced. The Kansas Jayhawks did a good job of doubling in the post, and it caused a total of nine turnovers from the MSU big men. Derrick Nix led the Spartans in turnovers with four, and Adreian Payne added three. Both Nix and Payne have struggled thus far in the season, and if the Spartans plan on having success come March they need these two to play smarter. Nix looked lost at times on offense whether it was handling the ball at the top of the key or not knowing where to pass when the double team came. Payne has been the Spartans best interior defender in their first two games, but only played 17 minutes tonight due to foul trouble. This win was a victory that the Spartans needed, badly. For years, Tom Izzo has tested his team with early season match ups against college basketball’s elite on the biggest of stages, and for the most part they haven’t prevailed. In 2008, the Spartans lost big to North Carolina, but were able to beat a very good Texas team in Houston. In ’09, they lost to North Carolina, Florida, and Texas. 2010, they lost to UConn, Syracuse, Duke, and Texas. Last year, they fell to North Carolina and Duke. Sorry to bring up the past, but we need to dwell on it a little to realize how important this victory could potentially be. This Michigan State team is young, and a victory against a No. 7 Kansas team after a dog fight against a good UConn team in Germany four days earlier shows the character that this team possesses. As the clock was winding down it was clear that the MSU players were getting very excited and jumping around, as they should be, but if you looked at Appling you would’ve seen him give his teammates a calm down signal as if he was saying, “Act like you belong here.” That act of leadership by Appling continues to show that he put in a lot of work this summer, and not just on the court, but as a leader. Izzo has this team going in the right direction early, which is important. Games like this are tremendous confidence boosters, and with a victory of this magnitude on a national scale this early in the season, the future is looking very bright for a young Michigan State basketball team.  
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eagles fan posts on Craigslist seeking help for team

Michael Vick has almost paid off all his massive debt

Russell Wilson changes agents ahead of big payday

Dolphins CB: Brady needs to 'wake up' about playing into 40s

Bears to bench Jay Cutler, start Jimmy Clausen

Wes Welker once pulled funny UGG prank on Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Wil Myers heads to Padres in 11-player, 3-team trade

Bo Pelini calls Nebraska AD a ‘c–t’ and ‘p-ssy’

49ers release Ray McDonald

Take your pick: Colin Kaepernick or Derek Carr

Reports: Michigan makes huge offer to Harbaugh

Heat lose a key player with McRoberts out for rest of season

Darrelle Revis feels sad for Rex Ryan

Five reasons why Oregon will win College Football Playoff

Biggest winners of the MLB offseason so far

Report: Celtics in serious trade talks involving Rondo

WATCH: Brandon Jennings makes mind-boggling play

WATCH: Drake intros Raptors on 'Drake Night'

Brian Billick owns Browns fan over Johnny Manziel criticism

WATCH: Did Flyers' Giroux wipe boogers on linesman’s back?

Royals sign Edinson Volquez to 2-year deal

12 candidates to replace Paul Chryst at Pitt

Brad Halsey claimed he was on cocaine for Bonds record HR

Wade Miley confident in health, diet after trade from D-Backs

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.

Michael Vick nearly debt-free

Dolphins CB rips Brady's career plans

Biggest winners of the MLB offseason

Brian Billick owns Browns fan

C's in serious trade talks about Rondo

Pelini has profane words for Nebraska AD

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

RG3 quits social media for season

Each NFL division’s MVP

Five NFLers who must step up in Week 16

Most impressive college hoops teams

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.