March 9, 2012

Payne Fuels Spartan Dominance

INDIANAPOLIS - No player on Tom Izzo's roster possesses as much upside as center Adreian Payne.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound sophomore has shown glimpses of brilliance on occasion this season, most notably in a victory at Ohio State in which Payne outplayed former AAU teammate Jared Sullinger.

When Payne is on, Michigan State is awfully tough to beat. And he was definitely that during Michigan State's 92-75 victory over Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Payne scored a career high 16 points against Iowa on 7-of-8 shooting. But it was Payne's seven rebounds that caught the eye of senior captain Draymond Green.

"It was a great performance for him," said Green, the Big Ten's leading rebounder in 2011-2012. "I was on the bench yelling at him because he only had one rebound the second half, and that's another step. We're trying to get him and Nix to take his rebound better. I think he did a great job tonight. I think I started off really slow and he carried the load for us, and then Keith, so that was pretty big for us.

"But we know the potential that Adreian has and the things that he can do. It was just a matter of him going hard every second that he's on the floor. And today he did that and he came up with some huge rebounds for us, some huge buckets for us. But I think the one thing I was impressed with early is how unselfish he was. He finished the first half with I think 12 and 6, and he was very unselfish passing out of the post, so that was big for us."

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