February 9, 2012

Player Postgame: Green, Payne, Appling

EAST LANSING - Michigan State players answered several questions about the apparent lack of focus that allowed Penn State to claw its way within five points of lead after trailing by as many 22 points during the first five minutes of the second half.

Senior Draymond Green made no excuses for the way his team let Penn State get off the mat. But the Spartan captain does believe that his team can take more positives than negatives from their 77-57 victory over Penn State.

Green liked the way his team pulled together on both ends of the floor and answered their opponent's second-half surge with a critical 13-1 run that put the game out of reach of the upset-minded Nittany Lions.

"In order for us to keep the lead we had to make sure that we stuck together," said Green, who recorded his Big Ten leading 13th double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-15 shooting against the Nittany Lions. "Teams can crumble and start going against each other. But there was never one moment where a guy that didn't want to stick with the other guys on the court.

"That is what it is about when you are going through some times like that. They are going to happen. We are not fooling anybody, it's basketball. When you have a chance to put a team away, you always want to put them away but sometimes it doesn't work like that."

The way Michigan State responded to adversity against Penn State gives Green confidence in the mental toughness of the Spartans heading into Saturday's game at No. 3 ranked Ohio State.

"You can't have those drop-offs and let up, but it happens to the best of us," said Green. "As long as you find a way to bounce back from it, of course it is not going to always happen like that so you don't want to keep letting it happen, but we kind of showed that we grew up a little bit. We didn't get down on each other and crumble. We didn't start falling apart. We stuck together and battled through it."

Michigan State can help itself substantially in the race for the Big Ten championship with a win at Ohio State on Saturday. At 8-3 in the Big Ten, the Spartans are one game behind the Buckeyes in the league standings.

The Buckeyes are difficult to beat at home. Ohio State has won 39 consecutive games at Value City Arena. Kentucky is the only team in the nation with a home winning streak longer than Ohio State.

"We'll go in there and try and steal a win," said Green. "They have a great streak going, so this is one of those program games, program wins that you talk about. We are trying to get one."

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