Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State is one of the few units in the country that boasts three outstanding individual scorers, all of whom retain distinct skill sets.
Keith Appling has always beat opponents with his quickness, but now he's added a consistent three-point shot. Meanwhile, Gary Harris is arguably the best scorer in the Big Ten. The sophomore 2-guard kills opponents with deception, skill and explosion to the hoop. His 18.4 points place him atop the Big Ten scoring charts.
Much like Appling, Adreian Payne evolved his game and added an accurate long-range jumper to his repertoire. The 6'10" Payne is shooting nearly 44 percent behind the three-point line and makes over 80 percent of his free throws.
The trio of scorers is complemented with another explosive weapon in Branden Dawson. Even despite the random lapses and whirlwind of emotions, Dawson has averaged 10.2 points and almost nine boards per game. He and Payne comprise one of the nation's most athletic and talented front courts, which dominates opposing teams on the glass.
But that's when they are healthy.
Since their injuries, the Spartans have been inconsistent. Keith Appling hasn't shot over 50 percent since Payne was in the lineup. Conversely, Gary Harris has shouldered the offensive load, registering at least 20 points in four of the team's last five games.
While Harris has stepped up, the rest of the team has had difficulty. For every surprising offensive outburst that one of the complementary players provides, that player has seemingly followed it with a disappointing performance.
Travis Trice has multiple goose eggs in the scoring column but has provided brief scoring spurts. Matt Costello had a career game against Iowa, only to follow it up with a dull six-point, three-rebound performance against Georgetown. Additionally, Kenny Kaminski has cooled down from his early-season shooting clinic.
The team performed well offensively in the initial contests after Payne's injury. However, with Dawson out as well, State has struggled recently. Harris isn't getting much help from his teammates, and Keith Appling's overuse has the point guard fatigued and banged up.
But remember, they're 19-3 for a reason. Michigan State ranks sixth in the country with over 17.3 assists per game and scores nearly 79 points per contest.
The recent offensive decline is concerning, but the Spartans have played admirably on the offensive end for the great majority of the season.