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Roe stepping into lockdown-defender role for Spartans

Michigan State’s Delvon Roe might be one of college hoops’ great “what ifs.”

What if he hadn’t had two surgeries on his right knee? What if he hadn’t lost the explosiveness that made him one of the best high school prospects Tom Izzo had ever seen?

What if?

Roe’s past all that. If he can’t soar, he’s at least gonna keep others from doing so – as the Big Ten defensive player of the year.

He got off to a great start by holding Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer – perhaps the Big Ten’s most gifted offensive player – to just 10 points and nine shots in the Spartans’ 64-61 win last week. He did more of the same Saturday against Northwestern’s John Shurna. The Wildcats’ forward averages 20.1 a game, but ended with just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Credit goes to Roe.

“I mean, you watch that film of him moving his feet against Taylor, it was big time,” MSU coach Tom Izzo told the Lansing State Journal. “I mean, he looked like Raymar [Morgan] or better. So that would be a bonus for this group if we could get him back doing at least something where he gave us an ‘A’ kind of effort in some area. Because it’s probably not gonna be in the scoring, unfortunately. And yet it could be in this area, which would be a big area.”

It’s a boon for the Spartans, who have been missing that lock-down defender since Morgan graduated. Perhaps Roe’s defense can continue to provide a spark for a team that’s won four of its last five.

“I’m a realist, like everybody else,” Roe told the paper. “I started to think, how can I get to that next level, whether it’s the NBA or overseas, whatever. How can I get to my ultimate goal?

“It’s not gonna be me going out there scoring 40, 50 points, 30 points a night.

“It’s gonna be me using my athleticism to lock someone down.”

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.