|Russell Byrd hits the shot of his life against Iowa. (The Gazette)|
The biggest highlight is 11th-man Russell Byrd's 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in OT that gave MSU a 70-64 and kind of sealed the win. (It would have sealed the win had the Spartans not missed three of four free throws in the final 17 seconds). Byrd's shot - the biggest of his often-injured MSU career - was reminiscent of bench workhorse Tim Bograkos' 3-pointer with less than a minute left that lifted MSU to a 71-67 win over Kentucky in 2002 at Rupp Arena. [VIDEO shows the clip starting at the nine-second mark].
The Byrd story is pretty simple: He was recruited by the likes of Kentucky because he was a phenomenal high school shooter. Multiple foot surgeries have derailed his career as much as his inability to hit open triples that he's said to be making consistently in practice and shootarounds. He went from a potential key bench guy for Tom Izzo to an 9th-man-in-the-rotation guy to a de facto practice squad leader. MSU's recent injuries and Byrd's improved defense are really the only reason he's been able to get on the floor lately. He then finally hits the shot he was recruited to hit night after night.