March 17, 2012

Player Postgame: 'lock in and pay attention'

COLUMBUS - Michigan State players spent free time prior to their game against Long Island University Brooklyn watching other NCAA Tournament games.

And after witnessing Norfolk State's upset win over Missouri, Michigan State players were determined to avoid a similar fate.

"Like all of you guys, we watched the Missouri game," said Spartan captain Austin Thornton. "The mistake that Missouri made is that they allowed a team that they was no question that they were more talented and better than to stick around. The longer you let them stick around, the more confidence they get and the more pressure gets put on them. We didn't want to let that happen. We wanted come out and make a statement and we were able to do that."

The Spartans were far from perfect against Northeast Conference champions. But Michigan State took control of the game before LIU Brooklyn started to believe an upset was within their reach. The Spartans began to dominate their 16th seeded opponents when they made a commitment to pound the ball inside to Draymond Green, Derrick Nix, and Adreian Payne.

Green led all scorers with 24 points to which he added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Nix and Payne combined for 30 points in 89-67 win.

"They were a smaller team so we were able to get it down low and get it in and out," said Nix, whose 18 points were a career high.
"When they dug or they doubled us we just got it out to our shooters for open threes."

With one tournament victory behind them, Michigan State now faces the challenge of getting ready for a difficult opponent in Saint Louis on one day prep.

"It will be routine for me and the upperclassmen," said Thornton. "The key will be to get the young guys to understand that they really have to lock in and pay attention. We are fortunate enough that we have great video guys, coaches, and managers who do a great job on preparing and they will have us ready to go."

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