EAST LANSING — Adreian Payne went 5-of-6 from the field for 14 points and five rebounds in the No. 18 Michigan State Spartans (16-3, 5-1) 59-56 impressive victory over No. 11 Ohio St. (13-4, 3-2) Saturday night.
The junior from Dayton, Ohio has really been on a tear as of late (averaging 14.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last four games), but throughout his career he has had a lot of success against his home state Buckeyes.
In five career games against Ohio State, Payne has shot 76.9 percent (20 for 26) and averaged 10.6 points and four rebounds.
While he had a great game tonight, his best game against OSU came last season when he scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and had four rebounds in Columbus.
After Saturday’s game, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta stated that he believes Payne is “playing as well as anybody in the country right now,” and I can’t say that I disagree.
Payne has always had the best post moves on the MSU team, been one of the more athletic players and a solid defender, but as of late, Payne has seemed to put everything together.
The 6-10 junior struggled with consistency for the majority of his career at MSU. There would be times when he wouldn’t be as aggressive from one game to the next, he often would stay in foul trouble, and he seemed to look confused on the court.
It’s obvious that something has clicked in Payne’s mind, and he has used his athleticism and high motor the right way.
He’s even started stepping into the role as a solid big man jump shooter, shoes most recently filled by Draymond Green, Paul Davis and Goran Suton.
Payne has knocked down several mid-range jump shots this season, allowing the Spartan offense to spread the floor a little more, but he has also shot 100 percent from three-point land in the past three games (he has attempted one three-pointer in each of those games). Payne is 3-of-4 from downtown this season, and with all of the recent success, and the Spartans struggling to knock down three-pointers, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this becoming an even more frequent part of his game.
Payne has really started to blossom, and his recent efficiency gives me no reason to believe that he will be slowing down anytime soon.