Davidson v Louisville

Chris Czerapowicz helps lead Davidson into the Old Spice Classic final

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With J.P. Kuhlman sidelined with an ankle injury and preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year Jake Cohen picking up two fouls in the first seven minutes of the game, Davidson needed someone to step up in their Old Spice Classic semifinal game against West Virginia.

Junior guard Chris Czerapowicz did just that for the Wildcats, as he tallied 15 points and nine rebounds to help lead Davidson to the 63-60 victory. Davidson advances to Sunday’s title game, where they will play either No. 17 Gonzaga or Oklahoma.

Cohen, who played just 13 minutes due to foul trouble, finished with 11 points and reigning SoCon Player of the Year De’Mon Brooks scored 12 points and racked up five steals.

Juwan Staten led West Virginia with 15 points, but his attempt to tie the game in the final seconds rattled off the rim in the final seconds. Gary Browne scored 11 points off the bench and Deniz Kilicli added ten points and 11 rebounds.

Like Davidson’s Cohen, West Virginia forward Aaric Murray was saddled with foul trouble for much of his time on the floor and finished with six points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

This is a good win for the Wildcats from a “resume-building” standpoint, but the biggest aspect of the victory was the fact that Bob McKillop’s team held on to win despite the absence of Kuhlman and Cohen’s foul trouble.

Czerapowicz, who averaged 10.1 points per game last season, was a major reason for that and his three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining gave Davidson a 61-57 lead just when it looked as if West Virginia had the Wildcats on the ropes.

Brooks and Cohen may have found a way to reach double figures, but if not for the 6-7 Czerapowicz Davidson would likely be preparing for the third place game instead of the final.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.