CHICAGO | Branden Dawson had one thing on his mind after Michigan State bested the top team in the country on Tuesday night.
Dawson stayed in the locker room well after his teammates departed, hoping to steal whatever time he could with 3-year-old son My’Shawn following No. 2 Michigan State’s 78-74 win over No. 1 Kentucky at the United Center.
My’Shawn lives in Northwest Indiana, and while the two communicate daily through video chatting, nothing can replace the quiet moments spent together.
“This meant a lot for me tonight,” Dawson said. “It’s always good to be able to come back and play in front of friends, play in front of family, and most importantly, in front of my son.”
My’Shawn was the hit of the locker room on Tuesday night, getting a round of cheers from the Michigan State players when he walked in after the game. Just minutes earlier it was Dawson who was getting the cheers from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo during the postgame press conference.
“Branden was the unsung hero of the game,” Izzo said. “We asked him to guard (Julius) Randle and he did a great job on him in the first half.”
Dawson paid the price for his physical defense against Randle in the first half. The junior forward began to tire as the game went on and Randle took advantage, scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half.
“Coach told me to go hard and that’s what I did,” Dawson said. “If I played 34 minutes when I was a freshman or a sophomore, I think I would’ve passed out.”
Dawson was able to muster enough energy late in the game to add a key putback that clinched the victory for the Spartans. He finished with eight points and nine rebounds after posting a double-double in the season opener.
As father and son walked hand-in-hand through the lower levels of the United Center, they walked by the room where Izzo beamed like he was talking about his own son.
“Branden was such a huge key to this game,” Izzo said. “He’s really starting to play like the player I recruited.”
Dawson averaged 8.9 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, leading the Spartans in steals.