Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14

EAST LANSING — It was around 11:15 p.m. and Michigan State had defeated Boise State 74-70 about 30 minutes earlier. All of the journalists were in the Michigan State locker room standing around and waiting for the man of the hour, or 40 minutes to be exact, who was nowhere to be found. Finally, after about 15 minutes of waiting, Keith Appling quietly walks in the locker room, goes to his locker, and turns his back to the media as he takes a sip of Gatorade. He knew all of us pestering writers were waiting for him after his tremendous game in which he had 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Appling set down his Gatorade looked over his left shoulder at the group of people holding recorders, cameras, pencils and pads, and smirked as he apologized for the inconvenience and  sat down to answer questions. The junior point guard from Detroit, Mich. is as humble as they come, and even after a great individual performance and putting the team on his back in the final minutes of the Spartans close win, all he could think about is the team. With 24 seconds left in the game the Spartans were leading Boise State 70-68 when head coach Tom Izzo called a timeout. The team huddled around Izzo as he looked at Appling and said, “Okay big boy, it’s time.” Appling came out of the huddle, the offense cleared out, and he took his man to the bucket and converted on a layup plus a foul. “I just knew he was putting the ball in my hands,” Appling said on Izzo’s comments in the huddle. “I had to make something happen for the team. Boise is a pretty good team, and I felt like if we didn’t convert they were going to come down and get a basket or a make a three or get a foul, but I was able to and that pretty much closed the game.” In recent weeks, Izzo has praised Appling’s dedication to the game in recent months and today was no different. “I think he went from a guy that was stubborn and thought he was doing enough to a guy last spring that just figured it out and figured he wasn’t doing enough,” Izzo said. “He just worked his way. If you ask him, he’s probably put in more work in basketball in the last four months than he has in the last four years.” Vocally, junior Keith Appling looks to continue where former Spartan Draymond Green left off. (AP Photo) Appling admits that his attitude towards the game has changed, and with the absence of former Spartan Draymond Green he knew that he would have to be more of a vocal leader. “Personally, I feel I’ve grown more as far as communicating,” Appling answered when asked where he believed he made his biggest improvements from last year. “Last year I kind of hid behind’s Draymond’s voice a lot, but now that he’s gone I have to step up and say some things to help lead them through a course of a game.” While Appling has noticeably improved his game vocally, it can’t go unnoticed how much his game has improved on the hardwood. Appling has stepped up as the teams closer early on the season. With two big shots against Kansas in the Spartans 67-64 upset on Nov. 13 in the Champions Classic in Atlanta, the junior point guard didn’t stop there. In the final five minutes of tonight’s game, Appling scored eight points, including the clinching bucket which is mentioned above, an assist, and a steal. “Keith has been working on his game a lot this summer,” sophomore Branden Dawson said. “He’s been coming in with no distractions, he’s mature this year. He’s our go-to guy, he’s clutch. He doesn’t force anything, he’s patient, and that what happens when you’re patient and you let things come to you, great things happen.” Appling played all 40 minutes tonight for MSU, and with an injury to the team’s leading scorer Gary Harris — who hurt his shoulder early in the game and is supposedly out for at least a week– he will need to be even more aggressive on the offensive end of the court. Whether it’s scoring more or being a leader to the younger guys who will play in Harris’ absence, Appling will need to make sure that this team doesn’t skip a beat without their freshman stud.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Report: 49ers to part ways with Harbaugh after season finale

Brad Stevens shoots down rumors he's headed to Hoosiers

Jameis Winston cleared in code of conduct case

Sherman: Patrick Peterson would be benched on Seahawks

Fans struck by lightning after Buccaneers-Packers game

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Philip Rivers playing through painful back injury

Report: Bears could have interest in Jim Harbaugh

Report: Shanahan interested in coaching next season

Report: Michigan has its eye on several NFL coaches

Report: Titans, Jay Cutler have mutual interest in trade

Phillies GM told Ryan Howard team is better off without him

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Tony Romo leads Dallas Cowboys to NFC East title

Ole Miss QB arrested after fighting, threatening bouncers

WATCH: Marshawn Lynch's ridiculous TD run

WATCH: Steelers' Gay draws flag for taunting teammate

WATCH: Three players ejected after Giants-Rams fight

WATCH: Dominic Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

WATCH: Arian Foster throws TD pass, drops scoreboard taunt

WATCH: Johnny Manziel leaves with injury after taking big hit

NHL has warned 22 players about diving

Nick Mangold wears NYDP hat to honor fallen officers

Five things we learned from the first day of bowl games

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.

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

Bears interested in Jim Harbaugh?

Shanahan to return to 2015?

Browns interested in drafting Mariota?

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

WATCH: DeSean mocks Eagles

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

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.