Derrick Nix had a big game and looked like he was determined to stand out against the veteran Valparaiso team. 23 points and 15 rebounds and some nice passing seemed to push the Spartans after a sluggish start.
Every player had their moment in the victory, Appling and Harris with some nice outside shooting, Payne with some nice moves and plays, Valentine, Trice, providing good minutes off the bench and Freshman Matt Costello as well, getting in on the action.
MSU will look to get its 18th win in 21 chances in the 2nd game of an NCAA Tournament weekend under Tom Izzo on Saturday against the winner of the Memphis/St. Mary’s game.
If Memphis holds on, Appling, Trice and Valentine will all be needed to stop speedy point guard Joe Jackson who is averaging 13.6 points and almost 5 assists per game.
A strong defensive effort out of the three guards and another fantastic Nix and Payne performance could push MSU into the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis by Saturday evening.