With 1:03 to go in the game, and the Spartans finally managing to put away Northwestern in their final game of the 2012-13 regular season, Michigan State’s lone senior, Derrick Nix, made his way to half-court where he bent down, kissed the floor and then strolled off the Breslin Center court for the last time of his career.
As Nix walked off the floor, it’s hard to imagine that as little as 11 months ago, due to some questionable decisions on Nix’ part, this moment was thought to never happen at all.
But there he was Sunday night, in his 134th game as a Spartan walking to the Michigan State bench, high fiving his teammates and receiving a standing ovation from the Breslin crowd.
In a career that has certainly had it’s share of ups and downs, Nix finished his career at the Breslin strong, ending the night with 10 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, leading his team team to a 71-61 victory over the visiting Northwestern Wildcats.
But the most impressive thing about the career of Nix would have to be the amount that he has grown as a person, both on and off the basketball court. We’re talking about a player who has gone from an out of shape, 330 lb freshman, shooting 27% from the free throw line to one that’s going out as a 270 lb. senior and 74% free throw shooter. A player who has went from almost being left off his team twice to being voted captain by his teammates his senior year.
“With Derrick Nix, you know, we went through so many things,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. ”He came in a little immature, a little heavy, a little bad. He’s walking out of here 4 straight tournaments, 2 Big Ten Championships, a Big Ten Tournament Championship and maybe what’s most important to his mother and me, he’s walking out of here in May with a degree from Michigan State University.”
As for Nix, he is very humble and greatful for the things Izzo and the Michigan State Basketball program has done for him and he looks back on it fondly.
“This program has given me way more than I’ve given it,” Nix said. “This team means everything to me.”
And now, moving forward, even though they did not gain a share of the Big Ten title Sunday night after Michigan stumbled late against Indiana, for both Nix and the rest of the Michigan State basketball team, the season is most definately not over, as the Spartans will now enter post season play.
Finishing the season at 24-7 overall and 13-5 in the Big Ten, they’ll start their 2013 post season campaign as the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament over in Chicago. This year’s tournament looks to be the greatest of it’s history, featuring a top ten team, Michigan, playing on the first day, as well as seven teams that were very highly ranked at some point in the season.
For Michigan State, they’ll play their first game on Friday, playing the winner of the Northwestern-Iowa matchup taking place on Thursday.
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