Spartans need a big performance from Gary Harris and Branden Dawson's energy to survive and win 71…
Less than a week ago, Gary Harris gave himself a grade on his season so far. It was a C-plus.
He reasoned the low mark with not playing as well as he could, missing shots he should make, not playing defense like he can – overall, not being satisfied with his season.
In the two games since then, he has averaged 23.5 points per game and shot 68 percent from the field – and 60 percent from 3-point range.
"He's just that good – to be very blunt and honest about it," Izzo said.
It was even less of a wonder why Izzo decided at halftime to run his offense through the talented sophomore, who had just four points in 11 first-half minutes because of foul trouble.
"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive (in the second half)," Harris said. "I was kind of struggling being on the bench (in the first half) and I kept bugging coach to put me back in.
"At halftime, coach said we were going through me, so I knew it was my chance to be aggressive."
He did just that with a steal and layup – for an and-one – in transition less than 30 seconds into the second half. He missed only two shots the rest of the way and going 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
"What an incredible performance by him, again," Izzo said. "Thirteen shots, it's not like he's getting a lot of shots. He's the most efficient player right now maybe in college basketball."
With another outstanding performance, Izzo noted he said before that Harris could be the best guard he has ever coached – and that injuries have cheated everyone of seeing the true Gary Harris so far.
"This summer, we got to work out guys out for two hours a week and the guy was unbelievable," Izzo said. "He was unbelievable and he is getting back in shape. I thought Illinois was his best overall game, offensively, defensively, handling the ball. He had spurts tonight again."
So has the self-appointed C-plus grade changed? Not yet, Harris said.
"It's only been a few games so I was able to get a lot more games as a whole to grade myself," he said. "I'm just continuing to try to get better. I don't really have a grade for myself right now, just keep trying to improve."