AUBURN HILLS, Mich. | Branden Dawson's jump shot still needs lot of work but defensively, the Michigan State sophomore is on you like lint on wool.
The Lew Wallace grad helped stick it to Valparaiso senior forward Ryan Broekhoff in Thursday's 65-54 Midwest Regional win, holding the Crusaders' star to eight points in 32 minutes.
Broekhoff, the team's leading scorer at 15 points per game, was held to eight on 2-for-11 shooting.
He came in as VU's top 3-point shooter with 82, but was 1-of-9 against the Spartans.
"Broekhoff's a very versatile guy. We were watching for him," Dawson said. "He plays the whole floor but we look at him as a big guard. He was coming off pick-and-rolls and he was bringing the ball up the court.
"But we played defense on him, me and Adreian Payne, we played solid and didn't gamble."
"He did a great job on Broekhoff," teammate Keith Appling said. "Every time he was able to score, it was off one of our mistakes."
Valparaiso trailed by as many as 27 points, 49-22, before turning it on late.
"The first couple of minutes we were a bit sluggish," Izzo said. "The last five, we were a little disgusting, to be honest."
The Crusaders were out-rebounded 49-23 and had 17 turnovers, yet ended the game on a 10-0 run to keep it respectable.
"He's a fantastic athlete," Broekhoff said of the 6-foot-6 Dawson. "He's long, athletic and quick ... was getting through screens very well.
"I was able to shake free a few times (but) with his length, I kinda rushed my shot a little in the end."
Dawson contributed seven points and six rebounds as the Spartans improved to 11-1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons.
Besides Broekhoff's offensive struggles, a week-old ankle injury rendered forward Kevin Van Wijk ineffective. He finished with two points — 11 less than his average.
"You know, he hasn't practiced since last Tuesday and I feel bad he didn't get to play his best," VU coach Bryce Drew said.
"The country didn't get to see how good he's been for us."