Aaron Henry Ready to Become Michigan State's Closer

Aaron Henry took over in a way he hasn't done in the past following a 64-58 victory over Indiana. He gave MSU a much needed win. More importantly, he's ready to embrace his new role.
Author:
Publish date:

EAST LANSING – The last few years, Michigan State relied heavily on Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman Sr.

The duo led MSU to multiple Big Ten titles and a Final Four by delivering in the clutch; it's where the duo thrived. 

Aaron Henry witnessed those accomplishments, he did his part, played his role, but concludes Winston and Tillman fed off one another, and it worked in Michigan State's favor.

Tuesday night, Henry scored 12 straight points in the final minutes against Indiana, leading the Spartans to a 64-58 win. The result improved MSU's resume and kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

"It's a process. Not everybody gets to be that guy here at Michigan State," said Henry. "Seeing Cassius and X be that for so long, and playing alongside them and competing with them, they handled it the best; they played off each other well all the time."

It wasn't the first time Henry embraced being the Spartans closer, and from here on out, MSU needs him to take over.

The junior forward tied a career-high 27 points on Feb. 20, when Michigan State faced IU on the road. He dropped 18 on Ohio State to go along with three blocks and two steals, and he helped the Spartans dominate Illinois in a game where the Illini's only lead came at the 15:17 mark of the first half.

However, following a loss to Maryland, MSU's back was against the wall.

Michigan State required a bounce-back win at home to avoid the pressure of defeating U-M, arguably the best team in the country. 

There's no denying, he had a rough first half, but after the break, Henry scored 18 of his 22 points and shot 6-of-9 from the field while grabbing six rebounds, two assists, one block, and two steals, willing the Spartans to victory.

"I feel like that's my role ... understanding the role I have on this team. In those types of situations, I have to be able to close games or get guys the ball or put points on the board for us," Henry said.

Tom Izzo took the time to reflect on his newfound star, a player he once labeled as "lazy" to an individual who does it all for Michigan State and more.

"He's playing 38 minutes on his knees and making big plays and hitting big threes," said Izzo. "That's the beauty of coaching; that's the success stories."

Henry is playing his most inspired basketball right when the Spartans need it most, heading into the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.

"We got some places with them, and I saw how they did it, and we got to a Final Four," Henry said. "I just want to get there and take it a little further this time."

Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Want the latest breaking MSU news delivered straight to your email for FREE? Sign up for the DAILY Spartan Nation newsletter when you CLICK THE MAGAZINE ICON at the top left of the page or the FOLLOW button back on the main page. Don't miss any of the latest up to the second updates on Michigan State Sports when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter @McLainGrant1