College Basketball Insider

Michigan State's Adreian Payne should've 'scuffled' years ago

Coming off a brouhaha with his teammates earlier this week, Payne was a pain for OSU. (US Presswire)

I have no idea which school will win the Big Ten.

Neither do you.

But one thing I know is that the eventual league champion will almost certainly be somebody that steals a road game or two and holds serve at home, which is why what Michigan State did Saturday was huge and important. The 18th-ranked Spartans beat No. 11 Ohio State by a 59-56 margin at the Breslin Center when Shannon Scott threw up a confusing shot that missed badly at the buzzer.

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So now Michigan State is 16-3 overall, 5-1 in the Big Ten.

That's good enough for first place.

(At least for now.)

But the more important statistic is that the Spartans are 3-0 in Big Ten games played inside the Breslin Center, which is crucial to their longterm goals because, my lord, have you seen what's next on their schedule? They're at Wisconsin on Tuesday, at Indiana next Sunday. In other words, Michigan State -- a team ranked in the top 20 that owns victories over No. 4 Kansas and No. 11 Ohio State -- will be lucky to win one of its next two games because life on the road is tough when you're playing in a league where 50 percent of the members are ranked in the Associated Press poll.

That's why the Spartans needed this one.

They got it thanks, in part, to Adreian Payne -- a 6-10 junior from Ohio who very clearly should've scuffled with a teammate years ago. Payne's been a nice player throughout his career, little more. But he's made 11 of 15 field goal attempts, 10 of 13 free throws and averaged 17 points and six rebounds in wins over Penn State and Ohio State since he "scuffled" with Branden Dawson in a hotel early Tuesday.

So good scuffle, guys.

And good win, Spartans.

And good luck on the road this week.

I'm not sure how the next eight days will go.

But you'll be fine in the end long as you keep winning the ones at home.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.
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