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

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


The good news of Michigan State’s opening-round win over Valparaiso has been slightly tinged with worry. MLive.com 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.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from Tampabay.com’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.