No. 20 Michigan State used an 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch in the middle of the second half to distance itself from Texas and get a 67-56 victory Saturday at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans trailed by five points at halftime, but were helped along by increased intensity in the second by the frontcourt combination of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne.
With his team up three with 14:54 remaining, Payne drove from the left wing past a defender and dunked the ball with authority. Two possessions later, he hit a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock expired to put Michigan State up by three, 43-40.
Michigan State led by as much as 10 points in the second half, but Texas was able to cut the lead to just four points by utilizing a 10-2 run with 5:23 remaining.
Texas had just two field goals in the last 6:35 of play, giving Michigan State the win.
Positive things happened for Tom Izzo’s team when the ball was worked into the paint with Nix and Payne.
Nix had by far his best game of the season, posting a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds. He was aggressive and intense on the block, complemented by Payne down low. Payne finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds.
Michigan State will need more from its guards going forward, with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting, three assists, and three turnovers. Freshman Gary Harris was 3-of-10 with nine points.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?