Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/21/12

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.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Greg Hardy excited to face Tom Brady because of wife Gisele

Aldon Smith pleads not guilty to hit-and-run DUI

Why the Thunder starters need to stay healthy this year

Josh McCown, Craig Robertson defend Joe Haden

Jimmy Butler cannot believe teams game-plan for him

James Harden: I know I was the MVP, that’s 100 percent given


Five questions about the 2015 American League Wild Card game

Kevin Love expected to be cleared for Cavs’ opening night

Dan Jennings will not return as Marlins manager

Bowling Green State coach saves motorist from serious injury

Roethlisberger refutes reports he could return in Week 7

Matt Harvey missed mandatory workout, was stuck in traffic

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Arrieta-Cole, objectively one of best playoff matchups ever

The controversy and numbers behind the 'CONCACAF Cup'

Why the Thunder starters need to stay healthy

Roddy White: I want to catch passes

Five questions about the 2015 AL Wild Card game

Bowling Green State coach saves motorist from serious injury

Bills defenders: Odell Beckham Jr. is a prima donna

Lifelong Yankees fan disses Alex Rodriguez in obituary

Trail Blazers honor Umpqua Community College victims

CC Sabathia and the humanity of athletes

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker