Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Iowa v Michigan St.

Michigan State’s balanced attack too much for Wisconsin


INDIANAPOLIS – After a sluggish start that sent Tom Izzo into a tizzy, the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans recovered nicely, earning a 65-52 victory over the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers.

Spotting the Badgers nine points in the first two minutes of the game, the Spartans went on a 20-4 run over a seven minute span – in which they went 10-10 from the field, securing  a double-digit halftime lead that they would never relinquish.

The run was sparked by three consecutive  Austin Thornton three-pointers, a senior whose proving to serve as an invaluable piece to this team.

“Bizarre game, but I thought we played well,” Izzo said after the game. “I never felt comfortable, but for about 30 minutes there I thought we played some of our basketball of the season.”

As the game got chippy in the middle of the second-half, the pace slowed down and the Badgers cut the lead to six, but never got closer than that. With 12:10 remaining, Tom Izzo called a timeout to set up a post-play for Draymond Green. It resulted in a basket and foul that, in hindsight, essentially sealed the game.

From there the Spartans forced Wisconsin into bad shots or no shots, going on an11-2 run and kept the Badgers at bay until the final buzzer sounded. It was Michigan State’s third win over the Badgers this season.

Leading the way for the Spartans was Mr. Everything Draymond Green, who finished with 14 points. But with five players scoring at least nine points, the Big Ten’s top seed displayed their balanced attack to get the victory.

When the Spartans are clicking, they’re turning tough defense into easy offense, and have proven to be able to play both in the half court, or in transition.

The priority is establishing an inside game in the half-court and working the ball out when needed, but today they didn’t shy away from forcing the issue in transition.

Keith Appling, who finished with 13-points, was superb in wisely selecting when to push the ball and when to call an offensive set.

The Three Headed Monster of Green, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix seemed down a man today, as Payne seeemd out of sorts – drawing plenty of ire from Izzo and his assistants.

Regardless, the win was impressive, and places the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship game for the first time since 2000.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.