Keith Appling is the Spartans' No. 1 take-over-game guy.
He's played that role well for the past two years. Much in the same way as Kalin Lucas, Appling has carved a reputation as a speedy, crafty scorer who can tilt the game in a hurry.
But he's hurt, and in all likelihood, he won't be 100 percent anytime soon. Those are the breaks, twists and turns that make sports so dramatic.
A senior point man is running on a half-empty tank and has a bum shooting hand. So, naturally, the next man up is Gary Harris, who is easily the more prolific scorer.
Averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game, the super sophomore is capable of scoring 25 or more with a few flicks of his wrist. But scoring points and taking over games are completely different.
He put up 19 against Illinois, but he missed a pair of three-pointers during the final six minutes (takeover time) that could have changed the tone of the contest. Michigan State lost, 53-46.
Hindsight, as they say, is always 20-20. It's neither fair to blame Harris for the loss nor to place the blame on a small group—the entire roster is at fault, even the coaches.
But it is fair to question Harris' ability to take over games.
He's a great producer, sure. But can he carry the load during college hoops' most challenging month of competition?
Really carry the load?
The Spartans better hope so; otherwise, their chances of reaching the Final Four (or making it to Round 2) are grim. If someone is to emerge as Izzo's go-to scorer, it must be Harris—late in games, not just double digits by halftime.
Upside: See Harris' shooting spree vs. Memphis in the 2013 tourney. As a freshman, he scored 23 points and nearly single-handedly dismantled the Tigers.