East Lansing — The statistics show Keith Appling only took two shots Sunday, and the one that wasn’t a layup, the senior guard admitted felt “weird.”
After missing three games with a sore right wrist, Appling returned in Michigan State’s 60-51 loss to Nebraska and was forced to take a 3-pointer from the corner in the second half.
It fell about 2 feet short of the rim.
“No, actually it didn’t (hurt),” Appling said. “It just felt weird. It came off wrong.”
That’s not hard to imagine considering Appling said he didn’t even start taking shots until Saturday, and those were all free throws and mid-range shots.
The 3-pointer he took Sunday was, he said, the first he had attempted since he last played on Feb. 1 against Georgetown.
“I was kind of paranoid shooting from long range,” Appling said. “But now it’s a lot better than it was so I’m fine.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he made the decision during pregame warm-ups that he wanted to get Appling some minutes, saying he would play a few. That few turned into 19.
But Appling wanted to get back in the game to work on gaining a comfort level with his teammates for the final few weeks of the season.
“That was one of the main reasons I wanted to play,” Appling said, “to keep some comfort with the guys. We really play for March but I’m trying to get some timing back on the offensive and defensive end. It’s progress. I just got to continue to get more and more reps in practice.”
Appling said he didn’t want put a percentage on how his wrist feels at this point and believes getting back on the court will help him mentally in his recovery, as well.
“Right now I feel like I’m thinking too much about it,” he said. “It’s not bothering me as much as it was. It was hurting so bad at one point I just don’t want it to get back to where it was. I feel like I’m worrying too much about it, but I’ll be fine.”
Harris to 'keep shooting'
Gary Harris continues to struggle from the field and, while he led Michigan State with 18 points Sunday, he was just 5-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
But Harris insists he won’t change his approach.
“I’m gonna keep shooting, regardless,” he said. “I’m not worried about it. Sometimes the shots don’t fall. It’s getting better. I’m starting to get a little rhythm, but as a shooter, you just got to keep playing.”
Izzo said Harris continues to work constantly on his shot and wondered if maybe he is putting in too much work at this point.
Harris is just 3-for-18 from long range in his last three games and Izzo said they have emphasized Harris attack the basket more often.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can,” Harris said. “Whether it’s get to the basket or if I’m open, knock down the shots.”
The loss was the first for Izzo against Nebraska and it was the first time the ’Huskers have beaten the Spartans since joining the Big Ten.
… At 6-6 in the Big Ten this season, Nebraska is .500 in the conference for the first time since it became a member in 2011-12.
… Michigan State entered the game having won 45 of its last 49 games at the Breslin Center but has now lost two of its last four.