EAST LANSING, Mich. Michigan State will be solid in the backcourt if Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Travis Trice can stay healthy. There are no doubts there. Though, how much Denzel Valentine and Brandan Kearney contribute off the bench remains to be seen.
What will determine whether these Spartans are just good or become great will depend on the bigs, as State coach Tom Izzo calls them.
All was well Saturday, when State pulverized Nicholls State, 84-39, and held the Colonels scoreless in the final eight minutes of the first half. But will Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson be ready to hold their own when the Big Ten season begins in four weeks? How will they perform when the Cody Zellers of the powerful conference rivals take the same court?
Payne, battling a cold, came off the bench for a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds with three blocks in 21 minutes against Nicholls State. He played both center and power forward, working in tandem with cen...