From Staff Reports
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Keith Appling bounced back from a poor performance when No. 13 Michigan State needed him most.
Appling led a pivotal run early in the second half and finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help the short-handed Spartans beat Illinois 80-75 on Thursday night.
Michigan State (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten) started the game without senior center Derrick Nix, finished it without sophomore guard Travis Trice and played much of the second half without freshman guard Gary Harris.
The junior point guard was coming off a three-point, no-assist, five-foul performance Sunday in a five-point loss at No. 3 Indiana. Appling helped the Spartans score the first 14 points of the second half to take their first lead against Illinois.
Nix didn't start because Izzo said the captain missed one class and one meeting with a tutor. He entered the game midway through the first half and finished with eight points.
Trice, a key guard off the bench, was limited to 11 minutes in the first half because of a blow he took to the head on a shot attempt. Trice missed five games after breaking his nose and getting a concussion in the season-opening loss to Connecticut and Izzo said early reports on his latest head injury were not encouraging.
Harris, a starter, went to the locker room midway through the second half with back spasms and returned to the bench, but not the game.
Harris, who said he was OK, had 14 points and fellow freshman Denzel Valentine scored a career-high 14, Braden Dawson had 12 points and nine rebounds and Adreian Payne added eight points, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass with 1:45 left to put the Spartans up 72-67.