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Izzo: Appling “didn’t look the same” after tweaking knee against Valpo

Michigan State Spartans' Appling celebrates three-point shot against Valparaiso Crusaders during second half of their second round NCAA tournament basketball game in Auburn Hills

Michigan State Spartans’ Keith Appling celebrates a three-point shot against Valparaiso Crusaders during the second half of their second round NCAA tournament basketball game in Auburn Hills, Michigan March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


The good news of Michigan State’s opening-round win over Valparaiso has been slightly tinged with worry. is reporting that star guard Keith Appling aggravated a knee injury when he ended up on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass in the first half of the game.

Appling downplayed the injury, telling reporters “I kinda tweaked my knee a little bit when I was going up for a lob. It’s nothing major, I should be all right.’'

His coach didn’t sound quite to sanguine. Though Appling did play the rest of the game, Tom Izzo thought the pain showed.

“They say it’s tendonitis — it’s nothing else. But you saw in the second half, he didn’t look the same.’'

Indeed, Appling seemed to continue to perform at a high level offensively, ending up with 15 points and six rebounds, but he seemed a step slow defensively after the knee was tweaked. Appling addressed the fact that he had trouble stopping Valpo guard Erik Buggs in the second half.

Buggs scored all 14 of his points in the second half, driving past Appling to the rim.

“There were a couple of breakdowns, but you have to give him credit, he’s a very quick guy and he made some plays, finished really well at the rim,’' Appling said. “The majority of that is on me, because I was the guy guarding him.’'

Appling will likely rest and recover before Michigan State faces Memphis on Saturday, but his condition, and how he plays against the Tigers, will bring a few nervous moments for Spartans fans.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.