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Keith Appling foul on Shabazz Napier costs Michigan State (GIF)

Michigan State guard Keith Appling can’t be happy with the way his collegiate career ended. The senior committed a costly foul in the Elite 8 on Sunday that helped send UConn to the Final Four.

With 30 seconds remaining in the game and the Huskies leading 53-51, Appling hit Napier on the arm while the UConn star was shooting a 3-pointer. Napier went on to hit all three of his free throws and give his team a five-point lead, ultimately icing the game.

Keith-Appling-Shabazz-Napier-foul

Given the way UConn has shot free throws throughout the NCAA Tournament, the last thing the Spartans wanted to do down the stretch was put them at the line. The Huskies hit an astonishing 21 of 22 free throws (95.5%) against Michigan State. They hit 41 of 44 free throws total at Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. They have shot 88% as a team in the tournament.

Wow.

As Derrick Rose and his 2008 Memphis Tigers could tell you, poor free throw shooting can sink a team in March. Phenomenal work from the line has catapulted UConn into the Final Four.

GIF via Diehard Sport

Tom Izzo loved that his players got into a towel fight in team huddle (Video)

Derrick Nix towelMichigan State looked like it had some chemistry problems when Derrick Nix and Keith Appling got into a towel fight in a team huddle Saturday during the Spartans’ 70-48 win over Memphis, but coach Tom Izzo says he loved it.

“Oh it’s great, isn’t it?” Izzo responded when asked about the incident by CBS’ Rachel Nichols after the game. “It reminds me of [Mateen] Cleaves and them. It’s better when your team’s getting a little feisty a little bit. Keith didn’t want to take anything from Nix and he told him, so, that’s all good.”

Nichols pointed out that Izzo didn’t look too happy about the fighting at the time, but Izzo insisted it wasn’t a bad thing.

“Trust me, in my program, that’s all good. They got after it a little bit and I kind of enjoyed it. That’s the way we are. We’re a blue-collar group, and that’s the way we play.”

When Izzo mentioned “Cleaves and them,” he was referring to his 1999-2000 team that won the national championship. They were led by Cleaves, then a senior, who had a tough, take-charge type of mentality. That team also featured the “Flintstones,” which was comprised of Cleaves, Charlie Bell, and Morris Peterson (Antonio Smith had graduated), all of whom grew up playing ball together in Flint, Mich. Nix and Appling live together and played together at Detroit Pershing in high school.

In postgame comments shared by MLive.com, both Appling and Nix said there is nothing but love between them, and that that sort of petty fighting is typical. We encourage you to follow that link to read more about the relationship between Appling and Nix.