The Michigan State Spartans 82-67 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Thursday accomplished a significant milestone in the 2014 season. The Spartans won their 20th game of the season, the 14th time they have done so in the last 17 seasons.
The win was highlighted by the return of Adreian Payne. Payne has been suffering from a foot injury and out of the line-up since January 7th. In his first game back, Payne showed very little signs of rust. The Spartans center scored 12 off the bench helping his team to a blow-out over Penn State.
The return of Adreian Payne does not mean the Spartans struggle with injuries is over. Guard Keith Appling missed his first game of the season because of a sprained wrist he suffered a couple of weeks ago. There was no timeline set for Appling’s return to the line-up but with the way the Spartans have been playing, Izzo probably won’t rush his team leader back into game action.
It just has been getting worse and worse,” Izzo said. “He falls a lot. I told him he’s got to go to gymnastics class — learn how to fall without landing on your wrist. … I know this, out of every guy I’ve got on my team, he’s the toughest. If he can play, he’ll play.”
Despite the players they have lost to injury, Tom Izzo was excited about his teams chances to win a championship.
I just feel that we’re in the hunt right now,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “After what we’ve gone through, we’re in the hunt, and that’s what I told our players. You’ve got to be in the hunt before you get a chance to win a championship.”
The win improves the Spartans overall record to 20-3 and 9-1 in Big Ten Play. The Spartans will roll into Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday to take on the Badgers.