Michigan State and LSU will fight on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Let's get to know the tigers.
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press

DES MOINES, Ia. Cassius Winston had to face a wide-open Aaron Henry just before the jump, and the US state of Michigan had to show up.

It has been an eventful weekend for the Spartan freshman, who has scrutinized the NCAA tournament often delivers. But Henry did not wither here. He quietly buried the quick pass for his first race of the tournament.

On the sidelines, Tom Izzo gently clenched his hand and lightly pumped his fist, while the Spartans went up in the second half of the 19th century. After Henry and his coaches grabbed countless headlines to start their Des Moines stay, everything is fine in the Spartan world.

On Saturday, the 70-50 win over Minnesota, which Michigan State brought to the second weekend after 2015 for the first time since 2015 I care about.

"I just tried to win the game, get to Sweet Sixteen, help this team with my opportunities and play my best ball," Henry said.

"I was just trying to get my job done. I was quit early (Minnesotas Amir) Coffey – and he did a good job – but I tried to do everything I could to put a stop to it. And then just bounce off the ball and earn points if I can. Playing in myself and playing my role was huge.

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Aaron, Michigan Henry bounces off Minnesota in the second half of the NCAA tournament game's second round Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa. [Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press]

Henry delivered a multi-faceted state line – nine points in 4: 5 shooting, nine high rebounds and three assists. Saturday was his fifth 30-minute game of the month after completing just two such games in the first 28 games.

As a young but talented freshman still immersed in the hustle and bustle of the march, Henry received an abrupt introduction. The social media and Internet outcry that surrounded the clip of Izzo, who insulted Henry during a break on Thursday, may have shaken an ungrounded freshman. But Henry remained unimpressed during the weekend.

More: Michigan State survives and fans want to give Aaron Henry a hug

He looked stable on Saturday did the rest of the state of Michigan.

"Aaron is doing things you can not see," said head coach Dane Fife. "Aaron has a tremendous sense of the game. Sometimes it's like having a senior in defense because he understands it so well. We're just trying to make sure he's concentrating on the things he can control, and that his feelings are not captured by things he can not control. "

That was big against Minnesota. Although Henry had spent most of Thursday and Friday downplaying the Izzo outbreak, there was still enough noise to create distraction if Henry was not locked up.

He was from the opening top.


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Henry threw a thunderous slump in the first estate of the state of Michigan. He helped Coffey, who had 27 points on the score, but needed 24 shots to get there. Henry's dominance on the boards was a microcosm of the night when the state of Michigan ended on the glass with a staggering 45:19 border.

The Spartans need their freshman even more on the move. Next is a flight to Washington, DC for the LSU at Sweet Sixteen – a place where Henry is happy after a few hectic days.

"I just wanted to relax and play basketball," Henry said. "I mean, I just talked to the coach, and I wanted to play the way I know I can and as the coach expects me to."

Dargan Southard covers the athletes of Iowa and UNI, recruiting and recruiting the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Send an e-mail to [email protected] or follow it on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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