July 7, 2009

VIDEO: Appling nets 26 in Sweet 16 win in Cincy

CINCINNATI - The Michigan Mustangs used 28 points from Michigan State commitment Keith Appling and 17 points from Spartan recruiting target Jon Horford in defeating Florence, Ky.'s Shining Star Sports, 76-64 in the round of 16 at the adidas It Takes 5ive tournament, Tuesday at Fifth Third Arena.

The Mustangs advance to tonight's quarterfinals where they will play either the Detroit Fire or Grassroots Canada.

Appling was 9-of-12 from the field including 5-of-6 from 3-point range.

Shining Star, which upended the Mustangs in the round of 16 at the Spiece Run 'N Slam in Fort Wayne in May, jumped out to a 16-7 lead behind hot 3-point shooting. Kalamazoo Central's Devin Oliver helped tie the game at 29-29 with a steal, drive and dish to Ladonte Henton.

Then Appling took over. The Detroit Pershing lead guard went on a personal 10-0 run to give the Mustangs a 39-29 lead at halftime. They led the rest of the way.

"That team beat us pretty bad earlier in the year, and that's something you have to keep in the back of your mind to help motivate you," Appling said. "We had to play hard, and we did. We wanted to keep going in this tournament."

Appling's personal run began with steal and a step-back 3-pointer. Then he added a lay-up, an NBA-range 3-pointer, and then another 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half, thanks in part to a high ball screen from MSU commitment Alex Gauna.

Shining Star made a run midway through the second half, cutting it to 51-49 on a lay-up off an Appling turnover. Appling had four giveaways on the day.

"I had to make up for that mistake," Appling said.

Appling answered immediately with another personal run, this time scoring 6 straight points. After the turnover, he pulled up and drained a 3-pointer. Then he went hard to the rim, scoring a lay-up while absorbing hard contact and a foul. He hit the free throw, making it 56-49 and restoring order.

Gauna had a quiet game with 2 points and 5 rebounds.

Horford had six rebounds and five blocked shots. The 6-foot-9 rising senior from Grand Ledge High School was the Mustangs' top player in the opening minutes. He was quick and efficient, scoring 11 of the Mustangs' first 21 points.

He had a memorable post-and-spin for a two-handed dunk, showing quick, smart footwork. He was aggressive, too, putting his shoulder into his defender for a bucket in the low post later in the first half. On the next possession, he went to his right shoulder and ducked into contact to earn a trip to the foul line.

Horford, who played well in front of MSU head coach Tom Izzo earlier in the day, was 3-of-5 in the first half, but tapered off a bit after intermission. He finished 4-of-10 from the field.

"We aren't going to get tired now," Horford said. "We aren't playing four games in a day."

MSU, Florida and Alabama are among the schools showing strong interest in Horford.

But tonight's quarterfinal will be each team's third game of the day.

As for other Mustang players, Juwan Howard had 6 points, Oliver had 2, Henton scored 4 and reserve power forward Matt Kamieniecki had 6. Kamieniecki's Mark Madsen-style game helped create a mini-run at the midway point of the first half. Miami of Ohio head coach Charlie Coles watched the hard-working Clarkston High star closely.

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