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.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

White Sox fan wears a fantastic taped-up Chris Sale jersey

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery

Eagles want Carson Wentz to be 'starter ready' Week 1

Report: 49ers concerned Anthony Davis will quit again

Did Manning hurt NFLPA's case in HGH investigations?

Report: Steinbrenner won't allow fire sale, wants to make playoffs

Report: Dion Waiters agrees to one-year deal with Heat

Dion Waiters' deal signals the end of the 2016 money grab

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

Kevin Durant’s OKC restaurant will be closed, rebranded

Lamar Odom said to be held back by one 'toxic friend'

Mario Balotelli crashes Liverpool fans' wedding

Michael Vick: I used to feel I was 'dominating too much'

WATCH: Astros, Rangers minor leaguers get into brawl

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker