Source: USA TODAY
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Tom Izzo loves the camaraderie and unselfishness in his locker room, and he can’t quibble much with his team’s overall play — the Spartans are 7-0 and will be No. 1 for a third consecutive week Monday after Friday’s 98-65 drubbing of Mount St. Mary’s.
He’s already handed out quite a bit of public discipline, though, and the season isn’t yet a month old. Friday at Breslin Center, seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne and junior Branden Dawson came off the bench because of “class attendance issues,” a Michigan State spokesman said.
Already, redshirt freshman forward Kenny Kaminski has been suspended three games – two exhibition games and the season opener — for not taking care of academic obligations. And Izzo brought Dawson and sophomore center Matt Costello off the bench for a Nov. 18 win over Portland, as a way to get more basketballeffort out of them.
The accountability demands are high early for a coach and team with national championship aspirations, and they led to a starting lineupat a fully packed Breslin Center that served as a preview of next season — Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine and Alvin Ellis III at the guards, Costello and Alex Gauna up front.
Sophomore shooting guard Gary Harris was the fourth starter missing, so he could rest a sore ankle. Harris is expected to be fine for Wednesday’s home game against No. 16 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Appling, coming off the bench for the first time since his freshman season, still managed 17 points and five assists. Valentine had a career-high 15 points and seven assists. Trice, making his first career start, collected 15 points and six assists.
The B Team starting lineup was fine offensively but struggled to defend the smallish, driving, shooting Mountaineers (2-6). MSU was up 19-16 when Appling, Dawson and Payne entered the game with 14:12 left in the first half.
Joe Rexrode writes for the Detroit Free Press