Feb 6, 2012

Michigan State senior Draymond Green turns in one of most effective performances in win over Michigan

 By Adam Biggers

In one of the most important games of the season and, perhaps his career, Michigan State senior Draymond Green rose to the challenge Sunday in the Spartans' 64-54 win over the visiting Michigan Wolverines.

In his previous six games against the Wolverines, Green, a former Saginaw High standout, averaged just six points per game. Sunday, however, he helped the Spartans (18-5, 7-3) snap a three-game losing skid to their in-state rival and inch within a game of Ohio State in the Big Ten standings with a team-high 14 points,16 rebounds and four assists. 

Sunday's game was about much more than beating the Wolverines (17-7, 7-4) -- it was for position in the Big Ten, which is surely the deepest and most talented league in the nation. After falling 60-59 to Michigan just a couple weeks ago, the Spartans needed a spark, something to get them over the hump and back into the race for first.

And Green, along with Brandon Wood and Braden Dawson, gave it to them. 

It's not hard to put a value on Green. He is by far one of the greatest leaders coach Tom Izzo has had during his 17-year tenure in East Lansing. And sure, Green has had big games throughout his career, showing his leadership abilities as early as his freshman year when the Spartans fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2009 National Championship Game. Green provides the energy, reason and passion that Izzo would provide if he were a player on the court. Fortunately for Spartans fans, Izzo sticks to the sidelines while Green makes basket after basket, as he did Sunday.

Green's 3-for-5 shooting in the first half against Michigan wasn't overly impressive. He averages about 14 shots per game, and taking just five in the first 20 minutes in a revenge game wasn't exactly what many expected out of Green. But he was efficient and remained steady in the second half, finishing the game 7-for-11.

Green, who is affectionately known as "Day-Day" to Michigan State fans, used his size advantage -- 6-foot-7, 230 pounds -- in the paint, out-working a smaller, but stout defender in Zack Novak, to score six of his team-high 14 points. Green showed that he indeed has a bit of range, too, sinking four of seven shots from outside the paint.

The senior wasn't the only reason why Michigan State downed the Wolverines on Sunday. But he acted the role that any senior playing with a sense of urgency should have played. In theory, Sunday could have been Green's last go-round with Michigan. And after an illustrious career in East Lansing, losing for a fourth straight time to Michigan and slipping into the middle of the pack in the Big Ten standings likely wasn't an option. 

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